Here’s a Guide To The Probate Process In Ohio- Probate is the legal process after someone dies, in which the decedent’s property is assessed and distributed. Probate is a necessary legal procedure that takes place following the death of an individual. During this process, the deceased person’s assets are evaluated and distributed according to their wishes or applicable laws. This entails identifying all assets, determining their worth, settling any outstanding debts the decedent owes, and ultimately transferring the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
The Ohio Probate Process
Overview: Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate. This includes identifying and valuing assets, paying debts, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. In Ohio, probate is handled by the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived at the time of death.
1. File a petition. The executor named in the will, or if there is no will, the next of kin, must file a petition with the probate court to start the probate process. The petition must include the deceased person’s name, date of death, and place of residence.
2. Give notice to interested parties. The executor must notify all interested parties of the probate proceeding, including beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. This can be done by personal service, certified mail, or publication in a newspaper.
3. Inventory the assets. The executor must identify and value all of the deceased person’s assets. This includes bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, and personal property.
4. Pay outstanding debts. The executor must pay off all of the deceased person’s debts, including credit card debt, mortgages, and loans.
5. Ask the probate court to close the estate. Once all debts have been paid, the executor can ask the probate court to close the estate. The court will hold a hearing to approve the executor’s final accounting and to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
Some assets do not need to go through probate, such as:
- Joint bank accounts
- Jointly owned real estate
- Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
- Life insurance policies with designated beneficiaries
- Assets held in a trust.
The probate process can take several months or even years to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. If there is a dispute among the beneficiaries or heirs, the process can take even longer.
Probate Court Proceedings
The process of probate court proceedings begins with the petitioner, typically the estate executor or personal representative, filing a death certificate and last will with the probate court. It is also helpful to provide a list of known creditors and the names and contact information of the decedent’s heirs. If the estate is small and not contested by heirs, the process can usually proceed quickly.
Probate laws are specific to each state, and most states have set valuation thresholds. For example, if an estate is valued at less than $75,000 and there are no challenges to the will, the hearings may proceed more rapidly. For larger estates, a significant amount of paperwork is required. In addition to validating the will, the process may involve:
- Determining how assets will be distributed.
- Resolving any disputes.
- Paying off outstanding debts.
- Ultimately closing the estate by settling the decedent’s final taxes.
A checklist of documents to gather during the probate process may include death certificates, the final will, documents related to any revocable trusts, contact information for heirs, beneficiary designations, pre- or postnuptial agreements, the previous three years’ federal and state income and gift tax returns, life insurance policies, real estate deeds, vehicle titles, statements of financial.
Cost of Probate
The average cost of probate in Ohio with a lawyer is $14,000. This includes attorney fees, court costs, and appraisal fees. However, the actual cost can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
Attorney fees typically range between $150 and $400 per hour. Some lawyers charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the estate value. The percentage charged can vary from 1% to 5%, depending on the complexity of the estate.
Court costs typically range between $200 and $250. Appraisal fees can vary depending on the type and value of the assets being appraised.
If you are the executor of an estate, it is important to get estimates from multiple lawyers before hiring one. You should also ask about the lawyer’s experience with probate cases and their billing methods.
Hiring a probate attorney
If you are the executor of an estate, it is a good idea to consult with a probate attorney to ensure that the process is handled properly. An attorney can help you with all aspects of probate, from filing the petition to distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.