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Is probate always necessary?

Probate involves the formal process of administering an Ohio resident’s estate after the individual passes away. Probate may or may not be necessary, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the person’s estate. Not all assets become subject to probate. Some actions, however, require probate and the opening of an estate.

Common reasons for probating a will

If someone dies without a will, then Ohio’s intestate succession laws and determinations of the next of kin determine how to distribute the assets. The process occurs in a probate court where a judge presides.

Assets owned in one person’s name or as joint tenants in common require probate. So, a house owned by a single person or not held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship involves probate.

Financial accounts that lack any beneficiaries or display beneficiaries that passed away before the primary account holder would undergo probate. Other solely owned assets may include artwork, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, and more.

Assets that avoid probate

Probate won’t be necessary to transfer assets or ownership when the asset is jointly held or has a named beneficiary. A joint checking account would move to the surviving co-holder, and a mutual fund could go to a beneficiary. Often, someone choices to assign beneficiaries as a way to help them avoid probate.

Be aware that administering an estate may involve other tasks besides distributing assets. Tax filing requirements do not go away even though someone passes away, for example.

Closing bank or utility accounts might be possible by providing a death certificate. Still, additional responsibilities may require formally naming someone as the executor of the estate by the probate court. A “letters testamentary” reflect the authority the court grants to a representative.

Addressing questions and concerns about wills and probate may require an attorney’s assistance. An attorney could help the executor or personal representative with the probate process.

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