» Probate Process

When—and How—to Withdraw from Probate

If you've been named the personal representative (also known as the executor or administrator) of an Ohio probate estate, you may be concerned about how best to fulfill your duties, or even whether you're able to do so. You may feel honored to have been chosen as an executor, but unsure whether you were the best choice.

You're right to feel some trepidation. As a personal representative of the estate, you could have personal liability for failure to properly carry out your duties as executor. It's natural to want to delegate those duties to someone else if you can. But should you withdraw? And if you should, how do you go about doing so?

Do I Have to Serve if I am Named as Executor in a Will?

You may feel a sense of personal obligation to the deceased to serve as executor if a loved one selected you and named you as such in their will. However, rest assured that you have no legal obligation to serve in that capacity. There is no set time by which you must refuse your appointment or renounce it if you have already accepted it. However, as a general rule, the ea… Read More

Is there a Time Limit to File for Probate in Ohio?

The short answer to this question is: sort of. Unlike other states, like Colorado, which require a will to be submitted to probate within days of the death, or Pennsylvania, which has a criminal statute for failing to submit a will for probate, Ohio has neither a strict time limit nor a criminal penalty for failing to probate a will.

However, with or without a will, there are a number of reasons you might want to open a probate case if one of your family members has passed away.

What Happens if I Don't Open a Probate Case?

You won't go to jail for failing to open a probate case in Ohio, but that doesn't mean there won't be consequences. Under Ohio law, if you are the beneficiary of a will, and you know of the will's existence and have the power to do so, you are obligated to have it submitted for probate within a year. If you intentionally withhold or conceal it or cause it not to be probated absent reasonable cause, you lose your right to inherit under the will.

<… Read More

When is Probate Required in Ohio?

Probate is the legal process of administering certain property of a person who has died. It involves verifying that the will, if there is one, is valid; identifying and gathering the property of the deceased; paying any valid claims, taxes, and expenses of the estate; and distributing the remaining assets to those people who are entitled to receive it.

Probate will be required any time there is property owned in the sole name of the deceased person, also known as the decedent. Probate is required regardless of the value of the estate. There are also several types of so-called non-probate property, which pass outside of Ohio probate.

Less commonly, probate is necessary when a person becomes incapacitated, does not have powers of attorney in place, and a loved one needs to petition to become the guardian of the incapacitated person.

Non-Probate Property in Ohio

Non-probate property passes directly outside of the probate process to a survivor, named beneficiary, or a successor in interest. Examples of non-probate property include:

  • Life insurance benefits payable to a named… Read More

What is the Probate Process?

In a nutshell, the probate process involves identifying the assets of a recently deceased person (decedent), gathering them, inventorying and valuing them, and distributing them to the decedent's heirs. Prior to distributing assets, the personal representative or administrator of the estate must notify any creditors of the estate of the decedent's death.

If there is a will, it must be submitted to the probate court for authentication. If the will names a personal representative, the court will appoint that person to administer the estate unless he or she is ineligible, unwilling, or unable to do so. If there is no will, the court will appoint someone suitable as administrator of the estate, often a close relative of the decedent.

Understanding What Assets Go Through Probate in Ohio

In general, any assets that the decedent owned in his or her own name at the time of death go through probate. This means that property owned jointly, like joint bank accounts or jointly-held real estate, are not subj… Read More

What Does it Mean to Probate a Will?

The word "probate" itself means to prove or validate. So, probating a will is the process of proving that the document is authentic, a true representation of the wishes of the person making the will, known as the testator. Even if a last will and testament truly represents the testator's wishes, however, it must also meet certain legal requirements to be valid and legally enforceable in Ohio.

A will generally does not have any legal effect until it is probated. Let's say a testator keeps his will in his desk drawer, and his wife, who knows the will's location, is named as personal representative. When the testator dies, the wife cannot simply take out the will and distribute the property as it dictates. The Ohio probate court for the county in which the deceased testator lived must first probate the will, then oversee the distribution of assets. If a testator lived outside of Ohio, but owned real property in Ohio, his or her will must be probated in Ohio as well as the home state.

Why Must Wills Be Probated?

W… Read More