Most people have heard the term “probate,” but really don’t know what that word means. In a nutshell, probate is a legal proceeding to administer certain property owned by someone who has died. If that person left a will, the property is distributed according to the decedent’s wishes. However, if the person died without a will, the property is distributed according to Ohio law.

What Property Goes Through Probate

Not all property owned by a decedent goes through probate. For instance, real estate held in the name of the decedent with another person with a right of survivorship simply transfers to the other person. This type of transfer frequently occurs with marital homes. Likewise, accounts that are designated “transfer on death” are simply transferred to named beneficiary without the need for probate. In addition, a decedent may have life insurance or retirement benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary.

Appointing an Executor or Administrator

Probate proceedings take place in the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived. Probating the estate requires that a person be appointed to conduct the administration of the estate. If there is a will, that person is identified in the will as the “executor.” If there is no will, the probate court appoints someone called an “administrator.” The executor or administrator serves multiple functions, including identifying and marshalling the decedent’s property, determining heirs and beneficiaries, and collecting monies owed to the decedent, etc.

The value of the property owned by the decedent impacts both the costs and length of the probate proceedings. Because of the complexity of these procedures, it is important that you or your family consult attorneys with experience handling probate matters. Please call the probate & estate planning lawyers at Wuliger & Wuliger at 781-7777 so that we can assist you.


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