What should you know about probate? 

When an Ohio resident dies owning probate property in the state of Ohio, a legal proceeding to determine the deceased's assets, their value and the method of distribution to heirs, is provided for by law. This proceeding is called "probate", and it occurs whether the person dies with or without a will. Probate takes place in the probate court of the county where the deceased property owner resided. If the decedent also owned property in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary in that state. Probate property is all property that is not covered by any contract providing for a succession on the death of the owner.

Probate is necessary to protect the assets of the decedent for the heirs, creditors and other persons due money from the estate, and to ensure the collection of money due to the estate. Probate provides for payment of outstanding debts, taxes and the expenses of administration.

The costs assessed by the probate court are based on a schedule of charges established by law for each type of document filed in the court. Attorney fees charged for handling matters of the estate must be approved by the court and are based on the actual services performed by the attorney.

Typically, it takes about 12 months to complete the probate of an estate, however simple estates can be closed in a matter of weeks. An extraordinary case involving a contested will or complicated tax litigation may take three years or more. Claims against the estate may be made up to one year from the date of death.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is a form of co-ownership of property whereby two or more persons own property together. It may allow the parties involved to escape the probate process, however proceedings may still be required to transfer title of certain assets and to determine taxes. Similarly, trusts may be utilized to avoid the probate process.