Having a close loved one or family member pass away can already be a difficult time all on its own. Handling the settling of their estate on top of the emotions that come with such a difficult experience can be an overwhelming task. Dealing with probate, meeting deadlines, handling the distribution of assets, and closing the estate can be difficult. But with a simple Ohio estate administration checklist, you can have a little bit of an easier time understanding the procedure.
1: Is probate needed?
Determining if probate is needed is an important first step in this Ohio estate administration checklist. According to Ohio state law, probate is needed to transfer the assets of a decedent’s estates to heirs and/or beneficiaries. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. These exceptions are:
- The estate asset is currently held in a trust.
- The assets are being held “jointly with survivorship”, meaning that ownership will pass automatically to the surviving owner
- The assets are subject to beneficiary designation, which is payable upon death — which can include some insurance policies in retirement plans
How to Select the Right Probate Attorney
2: Find an estate administration attorney
If there are any estate assets that are passing through probate, an estate administration attorney is almost always going to be necessary. This second part of the Ohio state administration checklist will also help you in determining how attorney fees will be calculated.
You will want to keep in mind that attorney fees and costs are generally paid from assets of the probate estate. And they will not be paid until the end of the administration with review and approval from the probate court.
3: File the appropriate paperwork.
If a last will and testament exist, the original will need to be filed along with a death certificate of the deceased and the estate administration pleadings required by the probate court.
4: Locate and manage the assets
If there is a will, the person handling the estate will be known as the executor. And if there is no will, they will be known as the administrator. As the administrator or executor, it will be your responsibility to keep the assets safe during the probate procedures and take full inventory of the assets. Taking full inventory of the assets may also include having that assets appraised in order to determine their value.
For this particular step, you will need:
- an employer tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service for the estate
- an estate bank account
Once you have both of these, you will need to locate all of the assets, secure them, and liquidate most financial assets. You will then want to deposit the proceeds into the estate bank account. Many estates will have an estate sale or an auction to liquidate any property which is not given to any of the beneficiaries or heirs specifically. If any contracts and leases exist, you will need to also evaluate all of these and terminate any that are out of date.
In this step of the Ohio estate administration checklist, you will also need to pay any debts or outstanding payments that are due. As the executor or administrator, it is your job to determine the validity of any claims for money owed.
5: Make disbursements and close the estate
When everything is completed, the estate must be closed. You will need a detailed accounting of receipts and disbursements that will need to be filed and approved. The court will then dismiss you from responsibilities and duties as an executor or administrator.
Contact Tompkins for expert-level guidance from estate administration attorney. Our well-respected and experienced attorneys will be able to assist estate administrators and executors in navigating the complicated process of probate and completing their Ohio estate administration checklist.