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What is probate?

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What is probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering a person’s estate after they die. It ensures that the deceased person’s assets are distributed to the right people and that any remaining debts or taxes are paid. Probate is usually a necessary step, even if there is a will in place.

Basics of the Probate Process

Although a disgruntled heir could contest the probate process in an attempt to get a larger share of the deceased person’s assets, in most cases, the probate process is uncontested. The basic steps of the probate process include the following:

  • Gathering all property of the deceased person
  • Paying off any remaining debts
  • Collecting income, dividends, or other money due to the decedent
  • Settling any disputes that might have arisen
  • Distributing property and assets to the deceased person’s heirs

Most people will have named an executor of their estate, which is the person who will manage their affairs after their death. If the deceased person did not name an executor, the court will appoint someone to settle the estate.

There are usually some costs associated with the probate process, including attorney and court costs, and these will usually be paid out of the estate.

Why Probate Is Necessary

Probate is generally necessary for the following reasons:

There is no will

When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” In this situation, the courts will get involved to sort out the decedent’s assets.

There is a will, but it is problematic

Issues with the will could range from a missing signature to the deceased person buying property without updating their will.

There are no natural heirs

Even if a person with no remaining relatives draws up a will to give their assets to friends or charity, the estate will likely need to go through probate.

There are “probatable” assets in the will

If the estate has debt or there are assets that must pass through probate by law, then probate will be necessary, even with a will.

How a Probate Lawyer Can Help You

Having legal guidance can help ensure that the probate process goes smoothly. Whether you decide to use a lawyer for advice and guidance only, or if you intend to turn over the probate process to them, you need an attorney experienced with estate law. Please contact our Ohio probate law office to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

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