Probate & Estate Administration

Probate & Estate Administration

Probate & Estate Administration

The probate court and estate administration process can be complex and confusing, with many legal requirements that must be followed. Winkler Legal represents estate executors, administrators, and estate beneficiaries through the complicated proceedings of estate administration through the probate court. We know that the death of a loved one is challenging enough, which is why we offer full-service estate administration services that relieve you of the day to day tasks necessary to properly administer an estate.

What is Probate Court?

Each county in Ohio has a Probate Court, which is responsible for supervising the administration of estates in the state of Ohio. If a decedent did not have a will, the estate Descent and Distribution statute. If a decedent had a Will, the Will must be filed with the Probate Court in the county where the decedent resided immediately before death. The Probate Court has jurisdiction to ensure that the estate is administered correctly and in accordance with the decedent’s Will.

What is a Probate Estate?

The “probate estate” is comprised of all property owned by the decedent that does not automatically pass to another by beneficiary designation (e.g. life insurance and IRA’s), joint ownership with right of survivorship (e.g. real estate), financial accounts (checking and savings accounts) or by operation of law (joint ownership of an asset). It is important to make sure you review your beneficiary designations to ensure they are up to date. 

What does it mean to Probate an estate?

In order to probate an estate, a case must be filed in the probate court where the decedent resided immediately before death. The decedent’s last will is filed with the probate court to be probated. If the decedent did not have a will, the estate will be opened and any distributions from the estate (inheritances) will be in accordance with Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute. It is important to have a current estate plan in place so that you have control over the distribution of your assets at your death.

What are the duties of an executor or administrator?

An executor is a person designated in a Will to gather assets, pay the decedent’s bills, and administer the estate in a timely manner. An administrator is the individual appointed by the probate court when the decedent dies without a Will. The administrator has the same duties as an executor, except that the administrator must seek permission from the court to carry-out certain duties and must also post a bond before being appointed. Executors and administrators must be a resident of the state of Ohio in order to serve. Lastly, both executors and administrators are deemed “fiduciaries” which requires of them the highest legal standard to always act in the best interests of the estate beneficiaries when administering an estate.

Relief from Administration

In Ohio, if the total value of all property in the decedent’s name is $35,000 or less, the estate can be relieved from Ohio’s formal estate administration requirements. Please contact Winkler Legal so that we can assist you in obtaining relief from estate administration.

Will Contests

If a dispute arises as to the validity of a Will, interested individuals may contest the Will submitted to the probate court. There are time restraints as to challenging a will, so it is important to seek the legal advice of a law firm well versed in Will Contests.

Spousal Elective Share

As a spouse of a decedent, you may inherit from your spouse’s probate estate as provided for under your spouse’s Will, or you can decide not to take your inheritance under the Will and elect to take according to Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute. Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute sets-forth expectancy rights of heirs at law based upon living children, parents, or other close relatives.

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