FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING PROBATE
During an initial consultation at StachlerHarmon, our clients often have questions regarding the probate process and what to expect. Our lawyers answered the most commonly asked questions below.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
Probate is a court-supervised process that administers the estate of a decedent or incapacitated person. Following a loved one's death or incapacitation, the executor named in the will, or administrator appointed by the court in cases where the decedent had no will, manages the person's assets during the probate process.
HOW DOES THE PROBATE PROCESS WORK?
To start the process, the applicant files papers with the probate court. These include a will and information about your property and beneficiary designations. Once appointed, the executor or administrator (the "personal representative") must notify relevant parties, including relatives and creditors, of the death. During the process, the personal representative must locate and manage your assets. The personal representative is also responsible for paying valid debts and preparing and filing final income taxes. Once the personal representative pays all debts, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
The average probate period ranges from seven months to 13 months. However, the process can take longer for complicated or contested estates.
CAN YOU AVOID PROBATE?
Not all items need to pass through probate. Items held in a revocable trust or with specific beneficiary designations, such as a pension, do not need to be probated. Ohio estate laws also allow a person to make payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations for assets including real property, securities, and vehicles. Full probate is not required in situations where the surviving spouse inherits all property and the estate is worth less than $100,000 or if the value of the estate is less than $35,000.