Probate is necessary to give the executor legal authority to deal with the deceased’s probate assets. The executor or administrator has the authority and duty to take control of and safeguard these assets.
Probate then provides a process for the payment of outstanding debts, taxes and the expenses of administration, and for the distribution of the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries and heirs.
Probating an estate requires the appointment of a person to conduct the administration of the estate. If a will exists, the person is usually named in the will and is called an executor. If no will exists or no person is named in the will, this person is appointed by the probate court and is called an administrator.
How Much Does Probate Cost?
According to the AARP, costs relating to the probate process can often approach 5% of the total estate value. Filing fees are assessed by the probate court based on each type of document filed. While attorney fees must usually be approved by the court, they can add up quickly and typically are based on a flat fee, percentage or hourly rate. In addition, the executor or administrator is paid a fee set by Ohio law based on a percentage of the value of the estate assets administered.
How Long Does Probate Take?
The fastest a small estate can be settled is six months from the person’s date of death. However, the administration of some estates can last more than a year. An extraordinary administration involving a contested will or complicated tax litigation may take several years to complete. Claims against the estate may be made up to six months from the date of death. However, in many cases, distributions of most or all estate assets do not necessarily have to wait until all probate matters have been completed.
How can I Avoid Probate?
Since wills require probate, you may have realized that you need more than a will. Consider drafting a trust. A trust is a document that provides your desired distribution of property and other assets. Trusts typically cost a fraction of the price of the probate process and also save time and unneeded stress when handling a deceased person’s estate. Probate can be avoided with organization and proactive planning. At AlerStallings, we work with clients to use available tools including trusts, joint ownership, and beneficiary designations. Of course, even if probate is avoided, some estate administration is still usually required.
Navigating probate court is never easy, and Ohio probate law can be difficult to understand for those who have not studied it. The probate attorneys of AlerStallings are here to assist you with the probate process and to make it as easy as possible for you should you find yourself or your family in probate.