Gentle Guidance During Probate
Many people assume that having a will means their estate will not go through the probate court. This is not necessarily correct. Probate is the process by which a deceased individual’s assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries. While careful estate planning can sometimes eliminate the need for distribution of assets through the probate court, this is not always practical or possible. As a result, a large number of estates, including those in which the decedent had a will, must pass through the probate court to ensure proper distribution.
In Ohio, the probate process involves multiple steps and requires meticulous attention to detail. These steps are governed by a strict timeline and involve rigid notice requirements. The attorneys at Wiles & Richards work side by side with executors to help expedite the probate process and manage what can be the overwhelming task of estate administration.
Our attorneys also handle a wide variety of other legal matters that fall under the probate court’s jurisdiction, including:
- Will contests (fraud, duress, undue influence)
- Concealment of assets
- Declaratory actions
A Brief Overview of the Probate Process
The first step in opening the decedent’s estate is to file the necessary forms and paperwork with the local probate court, along with the will if the decedent had one.
If no objections are filed, the court will appoint an executor to handle the estate administration. The executor’s duties include the following:
- gather all property of the decedent
- receive all payments and income due to the estate
- identify and notify the next of kin
- if there is a will, identify and notify all beneficiaries
- investigate the validity of any creditors’ claims and pay them if they are legitimate
- prepare and file tax returns
- distribute assets to the heirs
The next step is to file an inventory of the assets, which is a list of all the property that will be distributed through the probate process.
In the final step, the executor must ensure that all debts are paid, make final distributions to heirs or beneficiaries, and file a final account with the probate court. If no objections are filed, the estate is closed.