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Stachler Harmon Attorneys at Law Jan. 4, 2018

Acting as the executor or personal representative to someone's estate in Ohio is not an easy task that is quickly discharged. The probate of an estate may take many months before all the loose ends are wrapped up and the estate can be successfully concluded. A person can be appointed in a will to be the decedent's executor or, where the decedent had no will, the person stepping forth will likely be a next of kin who, in the face of no opposition, will be appointed by the court to perform the job.

All estates are similar in some respects, and the duties of the executor follow a generally recognized pattern. The executor must find and preserve the assets of the estate. This includes all property owned in the decedent's name at the time of death. If there is a home, the executor will see to it that the property is protected and the bills are paid until the property is disposed of under law or according to the will. With no will, the usual course will be to appraise and sell the real estate through auction or a private broker.

The executor will establish an estate checking account to deposit the proceeds of all assets that are sold or cashed in. This includes all bank accounts, investment accounts, certificates and similar funds. The executor locates all of those accounts, closes them out and deposits the proceeds into the estate account. The executor uses a death certificate and the appointment papers by the court to exert authority over the decedent's assets.

The executor usually works together with the estate's attorney, who is a vital participant in the probate process. Together, they will pay all bills and eventually make an accounting of the total assets along with a statement of distribution to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries must approve of the final accounting and provide the estate with a release that approves final closing of the estate. The court has a general supervisory function over the process in Ohio, but does not generally get actively involved unless there are legal issues or unusual matters to be resolved.