Probate & Estate Administration

Aler Stallings

Is probate necessary? What about the trust? Do all attorneys charge a percentage of the estate? You have options, and choosing the wrong attorney can make a tough situation tougher. At AlerStallings, our attorneys and process are different. We’ll show you where to start and how to save. To learn more, watch the video below, stop by a seminar, or schedule a consultation with an AlerStallings attorney.


“Is probate court necessary?”

Dealing with the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. In addition to the grief you feel, you may have questions about how to handle their finances and property. Before you try to track down the attorney who drafted the will years ago, give us a call. Our experienced attorneys will sit down with you and review your situation to determine whether you even need to open a probate estate to transfer your loved one’s property. If probate is necessary, we will be with you every step of the way. Many people feel pressured into using an attorney just because he is holding onto the will. Know that it’s your choice. For help getting you through this tough time, call us to schedule an evaluation.

Trust Administration

“What do you do with mom’s trust?”

You might try to read it, but you know that understanding it is an entirely different story. Despite your frustration, you now have a fiduciary duty to the trust and beneficiaries as a named trustee. Simply ignoring mom’s trust is not an option. Most likely, there are accounting, tax, and distribution tasks that need to be done in a timely fashion. Don’t panic. Drafting, understanding, and administering trusts is our business. For help understanding the next steps with your trust after a death in the family, call us to schedule an evaluation.

Tax Preparation

“Do you need to pay dad’s taxes?”

Which ones? Federal estate tax. Ohio inheritance tax. Gift tax. Income tax. Trust tax. These are just a few of the taxes that may be due after dad’s death. There are numerous factors to consider when developing your tax strategy. Failure to consult with the right professional could result in additional penalties, fines, and taxes. Let our experienced attorneys do the heavy lifting. For help assembling the appropriate returns and other tax documentation, call us to schedule an evaluation.


“How do you appoint a guardian?”

When someone can’t take care of themselves or their property, a court may need to appoint a guardian. We understand that this is a difficult decision, particularly when everyone doesn’t agree. That said, when a loved one’s healthcare and finances are not being taken care of, something must be done. Our attorneys can work with you and your family to determine whether guardianship is the appropriate course of action. If it is, we can assist you through the court process to get the right person appointed. For help with any of your guardianship questions, call us to schedule an evaluation.

Estate Dispute Resolution

“Are you involved with a contested will or estate?”

Unfortunately, a variety of problems can arise when making distributions from a parent’s estate. Perhaps you suspect that dad’s will was changed under questionable circumstances. Maybe you’re a trustee or executor, and a family member is now trying to contest who gets what. Either way, our team can help you through these types of tough situations. Make sure you have an experienced attorney in your corner to protect your interests. For help in these situations, call us to schedule an evaluation.

When someone passes away, the assets are normally transferred through estate administration.  After a person dies, his or her estate must be administered, including paying the creditors, filing the will, taking an inventory of the property, paying the taxes, notifying the beneficiaries and distributing the assets. The decedent’s estate may be administered through the probate process if he or she died with a will or died intestate. If the person established a trust, the assets will be handled through a trust administration.  At AlerStallings, we call this estate administration process Wealth Transfer and Trust Administration (“WTTA”).   So whether you find yourself in the probate court system or simply trying to close out a loved one’s estate, the attorneys at AlerStallings are here to assist you. 

What is Probate?

Many people mistakenly believe that a will is enough to avoid probate.  But the truth is, all wills require probate.  Probate is a legal process to administer probate property at the time of someone’s death.  This process ensures that claims, expenses and taxes are paid, and that the remaining estate is distributed according to the person’s will or Ohio law.  A probate proceeding takes place in the probate court of the county where the deceased person lived.  If the deceased also owned assets in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary.  

The probate process takes at least six months.  In Ohio, we see the average probate process last almost a year.  During this time, legal notices instructing creditors to come forward are made.  If no creditors or disputes arise, the estate can then be closed. If on the other hand creditors come forward, the debts will need to be paid or payment arrangements must be made with each creditor. Disputes can drag out in the court for months. We understand how the probate process works and can help expedite the process.

What if Probate Isn’t Needed?

During a person’s lifetime, he or she may choose to establish a trust. Trusts may be revocable or irrevocable and are established for a number of purposes. Some people set up special needs trusts to provide care for disabled individuals.  Others set up trusts to protect their assets from future long-term care costs.  In any event, when the person dies, there is still work to do.

Trust Administration

The good news is that trust assets do not have to be supervised by the probate court. When a person establishes a trust, he or she names a trustee to administer it after death. The trustee will distribute assets from the trust as designated by the provisions of it. The trustee has a responsibility to manage the trust assets solely for the benefit of the beneficiaries. When determining who to name as a trustee, some people choose a trusted friend or family member. 

If you find yourself as the trustee, it is good practice to meet with an attorney at AlerStallings to discuss your responsibilities.  

We thought having a will was enough, but then we heard others tell about the "Probate Nightmare".  We now feel confident that we have helped our children upon our passing.  

-Rodney & Susan Echelberry, Fostoria, Ohio

We visited with three lawyers before we decided on AlerStallings. Liz was very patient with all my Dad's questions.  We are pleased with the results.

-Carl Wren Jr., Bellefontaine, Ohio

AlerStallings was recommended by my CPA Fred Stevenson. I liked the friendly personal service.  

-Beverly Fogt, Lakeview, Ohio

We were very pleased with the service from AlerStallings.  

-Ken & Ida VanTilburg, Fort Recovery, OH 

Every time we called Dad’s attorney with a question, we had to pay. Not with AlerStallings. That’s makes them unique. 

-Michael & Sally Elsea, Findlay,OH

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between trust administration and probate?

What can you do if your family is fighting over an estate?

These matters are often particularly emotional, and can be very stressful for all parties involved. Unfortunately, these disputes typically involve court proceedings. So in most situations it imperative to retain experienced counsel as soon as possible to ensure your that your interests are protected.

Why are guardians appointed?

A probate court appoints a guardian to direct the legal or financial affairs or the personal care of a person who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. Family members often petition the court to act in situations where someone appears to be "incompetent." If the court finds that the person is incompetent and a guardianship is necessary, the court will appoint a guardian.