What is Probate and How do I Avoid It?

What is Probate and How do I Avoid It?

Much like a lion, probate is something that if we came upon it, we’d run far and fast from it. But, if we aren’t prepared, it might creep up and begin devouring things that are valuable to us.

While a lion eats meat, probate chews up your inheritance.  

It’s best to prepare yourself by knowing what probate is and then taking a few simple action steps to avoid it.

What is probate?

“Probate” is the process of proving a will. After a person dies, a probate court supervises the tedious process of gathering the deceased person’s assets, proving the will, paying expenses and distributing the estate to creditors and inheritors.

In the state of Ohio, in addition to the above tasks, a probate court oversees appointing executors, will contests and, finally, distribution of the balance to those named in the will.

If there is no will, Ohio law controls the administration of the deceased person’s estate. The Court will appoint an administrator to oversee the probate of the estate.

What are the drawbacks?

The two major issues with having an estate settled by probate are the time and the expense.

Often, the tedious process can tie up property and assets for months, sometimes even a year or more. If the decedent owns property in another state, there will be another separate proceeding executed in that state as well.

Probate proceedings can also accumulate multiple fees. These include court costs, appraiser’s fees, executor commissions and an attorney’s fee calculated as a percentage of the estate.

Privacy can also be an issue in a probate estate. Those proceedings are reported and open to public review. As a result of these factors, going through probate can be draining and stressful on loved ones. 

How can I avoid it?

The best way to avoid the tedium, expense and inefficiency of the probate court is to set up a revocable living trust. With a trust, the heirs of your estate can transfer your property quickly and easily. This means more of the property you leave behind goes to the people you want to inherit it.

 You can discuss other ways to avoid probate with your lawyer. For you, this might include converting to pay-on-death accounts, joint property ownership, or gifts. Ohio also has a few shortcuts to help small estate owners avoid probate after death.

Probate has the ability to become a costly, time-devouring beast for people that are unprepared. Talk to an attorney today to take control of your inheritance.