Estate Administration is the process by which a person’s debts are paid, and assets are transferred to their heirs. The process is administered through Probate Court and involves the filing of many forms, and the following of procedures set out in Ohio law. It is important to have the assistance of an experienced attorney who knows probate law. Ron has administered estates in Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina, Wayne, Geauga, Ashtabula, Lake, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Mahoning, Columbiana, Franklin and Marion counties.
Living trust. A living trust accomplishes what a will does, but allows you to avoid probate as the trust is administered. This provides for privacy, since the assets in your estate won’t be listed in a public Probate Court website. Avoiding probate also means avoiding the court costs, attorney fees and fiduciary fees that come with the probate administration. Lastly, trust administration can be done much more quickly than probate, which has built-in delays to allow for claims to be filed against the estate.
Joint Survivorship Deed. This is a tool used to keep real estate out of probate, especially useful for married couples who own their home. Often we find that married couples received title to their home jointly, but without a right of survivorship. The solution is to prepare a new deed, by which the couple transfers the property to themselves, with a right of survivorship. Then, upon the death of one of them, the survivor automatically becomes the owner of the home. This fact is documented with an Affidavit of Survivorship, without going through probate.
Transfer on Death Affidavit. This is another tool used to keep real estate out of probate. Transfer on death allows an owner of real estate to name one or more beneficiaries who will become owners after the current owner dies. This tool is more commonly used for a single or widowed person to transfer real estate to children or other beneficiaries. After the original owner’s death, an Affidavit of Survivorship is recorded, so the property transfers without going through probate.
Financial Durable Power of Attorney. This document is a very useful tool that allows a person to name somebody they trust who will be authorized to handle all aspects of the person’s finances. It is most useful to avoid the necessity of a guardianship, which is a process by which Probate Court names a person who will control the finances of a person who is unable to handle his own finances.