PROBATE AND ESTATE PLANNING
The Law Firm of Miller, Luring, Venters & Wesner Co., L.P.A. is prepared to assist and guide you through every step of estate administration. Our competent attorneys assure the accurate and efficient probating of wills, and enable executors and their families to successfully navigate the administration process. Our team provides comprehensive legal services, so that you can properly grieve the loss of your loved one without adding undue stress to the administration of their estate.
What Is Probate and Estate Administration
Probating the Last Will and Testament of a person who has passed away is defined as the action or process of proving before the Probate Court that the document being submitted is genuine. The basic process of Estate Administration involves: taking an inventory of the assets of the person who has died (decedent); paying creditors who have valid claims against the estate; making distribution of remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate; and providing the Probate Court with an official accounting.
When a person dies, many of their assets must pass through the Probate Court the county in which they were a resident before the assets can be distributed. The distribution of assets is done according to the Will of the decedent (or according to state law, if there is no Will). The probate process exists to ensure the deceased person’s property is properly accounted for and distributed.
Not All Assets Are Required to Pass Through the Probate Estate
It is possible to limit the assets that must pass through probate. Certain property can be kept out of probate through careful and simple estate planning. Assets including money in bank accounts, vehicles, and real estate can easily be transferred upon the death of one person to the individual of their choosing. A house can be transferred through a Survivorship Deed or Transfer on Death Affidavit. Cars, trucks and boats can be titled in any two persons’ names and upon the death of one, the interest in the vehicle passes to the survivor. Simple measures can be taken to reduce the future costs of probate by planning now. Similarly, assets can avoid passing through probate when they are placed into a Trust.
Advantages to Keeping Property Out of Probate
Depending on the situation, probate can be a long process lasting months and in some cases years. Careful estate planning that keeps property out of probate means that the intended beneficiaries can obtain almost immediate access to the property. Probate can also become a complicated process, particularly when there is conflict between heirs/beneficiaries and disputes about the last wishes of the decedent. Other complications can also arise when the decedent owned and operated a business. Ultimately, keeping property out of probate can make it possible to reduce the costs of administering the probated estate.
Is Probate Expensive?
The costs of probate are stipulated by statute under the Ohio Revised Code. There are situations where an attorney can petition a Court to permit larger fees, but by law these fees and costs must be reasonable. Consequently, attorneys are allowed to charge more for larger estates than they can charge for smaller estates. In addition to attorney costs, the Probate Court charges fees for every estate that passes through it. Lastly, there may be tax consequences for property that passes through probate.
What Are Some Issues that May Arise In Probate Court?
One of the most common problems arises when a person dies without a Will to tell remaining family members what they want done with their property. When there is no Will, an executor must be appointed by the probate court. The executor is responsible for administering the estate, and often times family members will disagree on who should be in charge. Disputes among family members and beneficiaries can arise even if the individual that died did leave a Will. The best way to minimize potential issues is to ensure transparency of the process, so that everyone feels like they are being dealt with fairly and in accordance with the wishes of the decedent.
Are You Required To Have An Attorney
An Attorney is not always required for probate estate administration. However, many of the issues described above can be avoided by having an experienced attorney assist the family with estate planning well in advance of death. After death, an attorney who understands the probate system can help the family execute the final wishes of the deceased, conclude all of the final affairs, and move the estate quickly though the probate process.
Probate At a Glance
*More information on the Probate Process can be obtained at:
Contact Us For a Free Initial Consultation
If you or a loved one is in need of legal representation, contact the Law Offices of Miller, Luring, Venters & Wesner Co., L.P.A. and schedule an appointment so that we can work together to find the best solution to your legal problems.