The loss of a loved one is very impactful for all of those involved. It is important to contact an attorney after a loss to determine what additional actions need to be taken to handle the individual’s final affairs. Regardless of a person’s assets, there are always actions that need to be taken. In some situations, probate is required to pass assets to beneficiaries.
Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person. Through probate, any debts of a decedent are resolved and the terms of the decedent’s will are carried out. If they do not have a will, then we rely on Ohio statutes to direct distribution. Probate only affects, and is only required for, “probate assets.” Generally speaking, probate assets are those that do not have any beneficiary or pay-on-death designation. Probate assets require court action in order for title to pass to the proper heirs.
Many assets can pass to one’s heirs without probate, if the individual takes the appropriate actions during life. Life insurance and IRAs, for example, can pass to beneficiaries named by the decedent by virtue of contract. Ohio law provides that an unlimited number of vehicles, up to a certain value, pass to a surviving spouse by operation of law without probate. Usually, the steps that need to be taken to transfer such assets to the beneficiaries are relatively simple.
We can help you not only with the probate process, but also with any non-probate transfers and estate tax returns. Some clients can do most of the work themselves, while others prefer to allow us to take care of everything. We can help you as much or as little as you need. As estate planners, we can also help you to avoid or minimize probate and estate tax for your heirs.