What is probate?
Probate is a legal proceeding to administer certain kinds of property (called probate property) owned by someone who has died (the decedent), to see that claims, expenses and taxes are properly paid, and to see that the remaining estate is distributed to those entitled to receive it under the terms of the decedent’s will or under Ohio law. Probate property consists of all property titled in the decedent’s name and not transferable on death. It is distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will or, if the decedent died without a will (intestate), according to Ohio law. A probate proceeding takes place in the probate court of the county in which the decedent lived. If the decedent also owned real estate in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary in that state.
Probate vs Non-Probate Assets
When determining whether an estate must be open for an individual who has passed away, we must determine the following:
What are Non-Probate Assets?
Did the decedent's assets have beneficiary designations or "payable-on-death" or "transfer-on-death" status? If so, these assets pass directly to the person or persons named as beneficiary(ies). Probate Court intervention is not necessary. These types of assets may include:
- Bank accounts, Certificates of Deposit, IRAs, Annuities, Investment Accounts
- Real property when there is a Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit recorded, or a Joint & Survivorship Deed has been previously recorded.
- Automobiles when a Transfer on Death title has been secured prior to death.
What are Probate Assets?
Are there assets that do NOT have beneficiary designations transfer-on-death or payable-on-death status?
- Many times, stock certificates do not have a beneficiary designated.
- Savings Bonds.
- Any of the assets listed above: Bank accounts, Real Property, Automobiles, etc.
A probate estate must be opened if any assets are titled in the decedent's name ALONE, with no joint owner or beneficiary.
Why is probate necessary?