Estate Planning in Ohio
Legally settling the estate of a deceased person is referred to as probate. The probate procedure is court monitored and used to distribute a decedent’s estate and determine which creditors will receive payment in which order. Even if a decedent did not prepare a valid will prior to his or her death, their estate still goes through the probate process as directed by the laws of the state in which the decent was domiciled prior to death or the state in which the decedent died.
Probating the Estate
Although the probate process and rules may vary depending on the legal jurisdiction in which the procedure takes place, probating an estate generally goes through the following stages:
- Petitioning the court to probate the will;
- Sending notice to creditors, beneficiaries and any other interested parties;
- Collecting, inventorying and appraising all estate assets;
- Collecting any payments, debts and income due to the estate;
- Paying any debts owed, and filing and paying local, state and federal taxes; and
- Distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries as directed in the terms of the will.
Probating Small Estates
Many states offer an expedited or simplified probate process for smaller estates that meet certain criteria. A small, less complex estate is not generally required to be directed by a probate court but rather probated in front of an administrator. This is a more time and cost efficient way to complete the probate process for small estates.
Disadvantages of Probate
- Time and Expense
- Probating an estate can take anywhere from six months to more than a year. Some large estates may take several years to probate. Any disagreements around the legitimacy of a will can further increase the duration of the process.
- The costs associated with probate can be quite expensive if a large number of attorneys and court hours are required for settlement. It should be noted that the probate costs can often be deducted directly from the estate in probate.
- Lack of Privacy
- Since probate matters are subject to public record laws, the size, contents and beneficiaries of an estate brought to probate is available for anyone to view. This lack of privacy may result in tensions and/or disputes among family members.
- If an individual dies without a valid will, that person is considered to have died intestate. This provides no legal directions a court may use to distribute the decedent’s estate, leaving asset distribution subject to the state’s default inheritance rules or applicable estate plan.
- State inheritance laws generally distribute assets to the surviving spouse and children of the decedent first, followed by the parents and other close family members.
Probate Avoidance Planning and the Luftman, Heck & Associates Advantage
Regardless of the size of an estate held by an individual, estate planning is something you should consider. Proper estate planning saves your family and loved ones the time, expense and stress of dealing with complex probate processes.
Luftman, Heck & Associates offers comprehensive will and trust planning services in Ohio to ensure that your wishes and the wishes of your loved ones are properly addressed in a legally recognized matter. Our services can further aid by offering guidance in preparing:
- Wills, living wills, health care directives, and powers of attorney
- Probate, estate management, and trust administration
Start Planning Today
There is no such thing as too soon or too early when it comes to begin planning for the distribution of your possessions. To begin the process for you or a loved one, contact us online today.