When an Ohio resident dies, a grieving family member is usually faced with the task of administering the estate, also known as probate. Probate can be a challenging process at the best of times, and even more so under the emotional strain of loss. Many people who are responsible for probating an estate have never done so before and do not know where to begin. A question we often hear from executors or administrators of estates is, “Do I need to hire a probate lawyer?”
The short answer to that question is that no, you are not required to have an attorney to probate an Ohio estate. But a better question is, “Would the probate process go more smoothly with a probate attorney’s help?” To that question, the answer is almost certainly “yes.”
To understand whether you need a probate lawyer’s help, it is important to understand what a probate attorney does. Probate is the legal proceeding for validating a will (if the deceased had one), settling creditors’ claims against the estate, and distributing any remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries.
Probate often affects the rights of multiple… Read More
Many, if not most people intend their spouse to be the primary beneficiary of their estate. But there are also many situations in which it makes sense to limit a spouse’s inheritance. Maybe you have family wealth or an interest in a family business that you want to remain in your family of origin if you should die. Perhaps you and your spouse are marrying later in life, and have each accumulated significant assets on your own. You might have children from a previous marriage that you would prefer to inherit your assets; a prenup can protect your child’s inheritance in the event that you predecease your spouse. Whatever your motivation, a prenuptial agreement can be a valuable estate planning tool.
If your first thought when you hear the word “prenup” is divorce, you’re not alone. But a prenuptial agreement is nothing more than agreement between a couple before their marriage as to how they will approach issues (usually financial) during their marriage. While a prenup does deal with how the couple’s property will be treated in a divorce, it can also address what… Read More
When an Ohio resident dies, a personal representative must be appointed to administer their estate. If there was a will, the probate court often appoints the executor named in the will. If the deceased did not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator (typically a close family member) to serve as personal representative of the estate.
The personal representative is a fiduciary — someone obligated to act in the best interests of another party, rather than their own. In the case of a decedent’s estate, this person is obligated to follow the law and act in the best interests of the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. Most representatives take their fiduciary duties very seriously. Sometimes, though, an executor or administrator commits a breach of fiduciary duty, or there is so… Read More