What Does A Probate Lawyer Do?
Probate is a legal process to finalize and administer a loved one’s estate after death. Your estate lawyer will work closely with the Probate Court in the county where your loved one lived when they died to:
- Determining the validity of the will
- Identify and inventory the decedent’s property
- Appraise the property
- Pay your loved one’s debts and taxes; and
- File the account and distribute the remaining property according to the will (or according to state law if there is no will)
In Ohio, if someone dies owning property in their name alone, they will need to go through the probate process.
However, not all assets need to go through probate. Assets such as retirement accounts or life insurance policies that have specific beneficiary designations (people named who should receive them) should avoid the expense and delays of the probate court.
Probate can be overwhelming and frustrating, but the purpose of it is to ensure a valid transfer of documents and assets. Because your loved one is unable to “sign on the dotted line” regarding his or her final affairs, the court must appoint someone (the executor) to handle this responsibility and close out the estate.
Do I need to use a probate attorney?
Because probate is such a time consuming, costly and complicated process, you may want to seek the help of a probate lawyer. The estate lawyer will help ensure that all legal obligations are met and help to speed up the overall process. Working with a probate attorney will also help you to minimize costs commonly associated with oversights, tax problems and long drawn-out claims.
Can I avoid probate?
A common goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, and many times revocable living trusts are used to keep your affairs private and out of the probate court. If your loved one died with a trust in place, it may be possible to avoid the probate process and probate expenses. As long as the trust has stayed updated and your loved one’s assets are properly owned by the trust at death, the trust can be administered privately with the help of your lawyer. If the trust was not properly funded (meaning assets were not titled in the name of the trust) you may still need to go through probate. Your probate lawyer will help to determine your next steps.
Getting help with probate
Our probate attorney serves families going through probate in Franklin, Delaware, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Madison, Union, and other Central Ohio counties.
We will sit down with you and/or your family to discuss how being your probate lawyer will help you move through probate in a timely and cost-effective way. Then, we can assist you with your own estate planning to ensure probate is not required when you pass away.