Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: June 14th, 2018 | Categories: Columbus Probate Litigation Lawyer
When you agree to serve as the executor of someone’s estate, you usually also agree to go through the probate process. Each county in Ohio has a probate court that oversees the distribution of deceased people’s property and assets. That court gets involved any time someone leaves a will or dies without a will. Individuals who set up revocable trusts spare their estate executors from appearing in probate court.
Probate court procedures are fairly straightforward, but executors must follow all the rules and meet multiple deadlines to avoid having the probate process drag out. Working with a Columbus probate attorney will keep you on schedule, but it definitely helps to know what to expect going in.
Here, we’ll tell you the basics of probate court.
File a Petition for Probate
The first thing a probate court judge must do is officially recognize the executor of the estate. Getting this done requires filling out a form and appearing in court, but it rarely presents a problem when the person who petitions to serve as the executor is also named in the will as the executor.
Note that each step in the probate process requires the executor to make notification to the court, which then either signs off the completion of the step or asks for additional information.
Inventory Everything Attached to the Estate
The probate court needs to know the identity and location of everything that is subject to its jurisdiction. Those items include
Anything held jointly, such as a house owned by a husband who died and a wife who survives, will pass directly to the co-owner without going through probate.
Publicly Announce That the Probate Process Has Started
After being recognized by the court, the estate executor must publish a notice in a local newspaper and inform in writing every person and organization that has an interest in the estate. Here, an interest would include being a possible inheritor, a creditor, and a government agency that paid benefits to the deceased person when he or she was alive. The executor may also be responsible for obtaining a death certificate, canceling the deceased’s accounts, and notifying the state of the person’s passing.
Settle the Estate’s Accounts and Distribute Property
The probate court may require an executor to post a bond and establish a separate bank account in the estate’s name. The bond will be forgiven at the conclusion of the probate process, and the bank account will exist only to hold and distribute funds that specifically belong to the estate.
Handling an estate can create complicated tax and debt situations. Consulting with a Columbus probate attorney will ensure that such financial matters get resolved with minimal difficulty.
The distribution of property to beneficiaries can likewise prompt legal challenges. Each person or organization that has an interest in the estate can raise objections to terms of the will that apply to them, decisions by the probate judge, or actions of the executor. This does not always happen, but an executor should prepare for such possibilities by hiring an experienced probate law attorney.
Petition the Court to Close the Estate
When everything goes smoothly, an estate executor should count on spending six months to a year going through the probate process. Once all the notifications, payments, property transfers, and deliveries of items are completed, the executor must submit proof of all those actions to the probate court. The court will ask for signed receipts, so the executor must work with his or her lawyer to collect those from creditors and beneficiaries.
A probate law attorney with the Jones Law Group will be happy to answer specific questions about the probate process when you call (614) 545-9998 or schedule an appointment by using this online contact form