The Ohio Probate Process

The first step in the Ohio probate process is the gathering of the financial records of the decedent and estate plan documents, including the will and trust. Understand the probate process does not involve all the decedent's assets. For instance, life insurance, retirement and payable-on-death accounts with designated beneficiaries who survive the decedent are not to be included in the probate inventory or accounting.

If there is a Will, an application to Probate the Will is filed with application for appointment of the executor. All beneficiaries named in the Will, and those individuals that would have inherited if the decedent had no Will are required to be notified by the applicant. The applicant should also consider notifying those individuals who may have been named in a prior Will. The applicant then needs to file a certificate of service with court that all required parties have been notified. This filing starts the time in which anyone wishing to contest the Will must file a Will contest action.

Appointing An Administrator

If there is no Will an applicant needs to file with the court to be appointed administrator. In most cases, an administrator will need to post a bond to serve in this position. Such applicant's credit status will affect their ability to obtain the required bond.

Executor and administrator are both appointed by a court and considered estate fiduciaries.

Completing An Inventory Of The Estate

Once a fiduciary has been appointed, an inventory of the probate assets is required to be filed and is set for hearing by the court. A copy of the inventory must be sent to all beneficiaries of the estate. If they do not waive notice of the hearing, notice of the hearing date and time must be provided well in advance of the hearing date. A beneficiary may file objections to the inventory prior to the hearing indicating that assets that are listed should not be part of the estate or more commonly that the inventory fails to list all the assets of the probate estate.

Payment Of Debts

Payments of debts or claims against the estate are required by law to be paid based upon statutory priority. There is also a time limit in which a claim may be submitted to the fiduciary for the estate. If the fiduciary improperly pays a debt or fails to pay a proper debt, they may be personally liable to reimburse the estate for improper payment.

The Will usually grants the executor the authority to sell or transfer assets. If an administrator is appointed, they will need to have court permission to sell the personal property and real estate.

Final Accounting

Once all matters of the probate estate have been finalized or are at the point of distribution of remainder to the beneficiaries, an accounting is required to be filed with the court and it is set for hearing. A copy of the accounting must be sent to all beneficiaries of the estate. If they do not waive notice of the hearing, notice of the hearing date and time must be provided well in advance of the hearing date. A beneficiary may file objections to the accounting.

Talk To An Experienced Probate Attorney

Please contact us at 440-884-4300 or through our online form to schedule an appointment with a lawyer. We are conveniently located in the Cleveland suburb of North Royalton, Ohio, near Parma, and we serve clients in Cuyahoga, Medina and Summit counties.