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The probate process for estates with and without wills

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Probate |

All estates go through a certain legal process upon the owner’s death. This is known as probate. The management of these estates, however, differs depending on whether there’s a will or not. Both situations have unique considerations and may be subject to different procedures.

Understanding these nuances is essential for a smooth transition of the deceased’s assets.

Understanding estates with wills

When a person dies and leaves behind a valid will, they want a specific distribution of their estate. In the will, they typically designate an executor. This individual is responsible for overseeing the estate’s administration, which includes several steps:

  1. Assembling all the decedent’s assets.
  2. Settling outstanding liabilities such as funeral costs, creditors’ taxes and other administration expenses.
  3. Distributing any remaining assets as per the will’s instructions.

The probate process begins when the court officially appoints the executor named in the will. If the will doesn’t specify an executor, the court or clerk will appoint one. This process ensures that the executor lawfully fulfills these responsibilities and that the decedent’s wishes, as stated in the will, are honored.

Addressing estates without wills

When a person dies without a will, their estate is “intestate.” In these cases, Ohio’s intestate succession laws dictate the estate’s asset allocation. Similar to a will, the probate process involves several steps:

  1. The court appoints an administrator, who has responsibilities akin to an executor, to manage the estate.
  2. Since there’s no will, the administrator must distribute the assets following state laws. This distribution may or may not align with the decedent’s wishes.
  3. The decedent’s spouse and children typically take precedence in terms of inheritance. However, without a spouse or children, other relatives, such as parents, siblings or the children of siblings.

Both testate and intestate estates may qualify for simplified processes if they meet certain criteria. For instance, if the estate’s value is below a specified threshold, it may be eligible for “release from administration” or “summary release from probate.” These procedures can expedite the probate process, making it quicker and less complex.

Processing an estate’s assets

Estate administration in Ohio can undoubtedly be challenging, especially during a time of loss. A lawyer can be beneficial in this situation. They can help clarify these complexities and provide guidance on the legal procedures.

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