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The Probate Process
A probate estate is a legal proceeding governed by the Probate Court that determines the assets of a deceased person, the value of these assets, and those entitled to distribution as dictated by the state law. The Probate Court in the county in which the deceased person lived has authority over the probate estate administration. The Court appoints a person or entity (such as a bank) to manage and supervise the probate administration process. If the deceased had a Will that nominated a specific person or entity they are called an executor, or if there was no Will, the person or entity is called an administrator when appointed by the Court. The type of probate estate filed is dependent on how much the estate is worth at the time of death.
Roles and Duties of the Executor or Administrator
The Executor or Administrator of an estate is the person who is responsible for supervising and managing the probate administration process. The duties an executor or administrator are:
• To determine the names and relationship to the deceased of all heirs
• To determine the nature and value of all assets and to safeguard said assets until distribution
• To file an Inventory of all assets with the Probate Court
• To determine and pay all valid claims against the deceased's estate
• To file a Tax Return and pay all required taxes
• To distribute the assets to the entitled heirs in accordance with either the instructions of the Will or with the rules of the State of Ohio when there is no Will.
• To ensure all assets with a named beneficiary are properly distributed to the correct person(s).
• To file an accounting of all actions surrounding the receipts and disbursements of the estate with the Probate Court
This can be an extensive undertaking that could requires legal assistance as the Courts are not able to give advice on how to perform the administration.
Documents Required for Probate Administration
Probate Estates can be rather document intensive and require some digging through paperwork to find all of the necessary pieces to provide to the Court. Here are some of the documents that can be required for administration:
• Most recent original Last Will and Testament (if applicable)
• Death Certificate
• Evidence of asset ownership by the deceased (i.e. life insurance policy, car title, deed…etc.)
• Bank Statements