Probate is a legal process that is often necessary after a person passes away. Its purpose is to ensure that all outstanding claims, expenses, and taxes are appropriately settled while also guaranteeing the rightful distribution of the remaining estate to heirs or beneficiaries. We at Gertz & Rosen understand this process can be daunting and complex. We are here to help. This guide will walk you through the typical probate process in Ohio, step by step.
The first step in probate is filing an application with the court to open the process, along with a copy of the death certificate and the deceased’s will if they had one.
The probate case will be handled in the county where the deceased lived at the time of death. The probate court in that county has jurisdiction over the estate. However, if the deceased owned real estate in another state, probate proceedings may be required there also.
The court will then name an executor or an administrator for the estate. Normally, if the deceased person has a will, the executor is named in the will. However, if the person dies without a will (known as intestate) or the executor is not available, the court will appoint an administrator. This individual is responsible for administering the deceased’s estate throughout the probate process.
The executor or administrator must notify interested parties in writing that the probate process has begun. This includes creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries.
All assets owned by the deceased at the time of death must be identified and appraised. This can include funds from bank accounts or retirement plans, real estate, vehicles, personal property, and more. These assets make up the probate estate. The executor or administrator will be responsible for caring for the assets until they are distributed.
Before any assets can be distributed, the deceased’s debts and taxes must be paid. Creditors have up to six months after death to make claims against the estate.
After all other steps have been completed, the executor or administrator can request the court to close the estate.
Once debts and taxes have been paid and the estate is closed, the remaining assets can be distributed according to the instructions in the will (or, if there is no will, according to Ohio’s intestacy laws). At this point, the probate process is complete.
The probate process can range from six months to several years, depending on the complexity of the estate and if there are any challenges from heirs. Hiring an attorney familiar with the process, like those at Gertz & Rosen, can help avoid mistakes and delays.
At Gertz & Rosen, we are committed to assisting with your probate and estate planning needs. Our experienced team can guide you through each step of the probate process, ensuring a smooth transition during this challenging time. Contact us today for a consultation.
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