What is Probate and Why Do People Want to Avoid It?

What Happens to Your Assets When You’re Gone?

When you pass away, if your assets (like your house, bank accounts, or car) are only in your name without a designated beneficiary, joint owner or a trust, they will need to go through a process called probate. This is where the court steps in to make sure your assets are transferred to the right people.

In Ohio, the most common probate process involves:

  • The executor or administrator filing papers to be officially recognized by the court.
  • The executor or administrator listing all your assets in a detailed inventory.
  • Unless the executor is the only person receiving from your estate, he must also report all estate activities to the court in an account.

The executor or administrator may need to take additional steps with the court depending on the circumstances of the case. All this is public record and can be seen online. Because it’s time-consuming, costly, and public, many people prefer to organize their assets to avoid probate. Avoiding probate also means your debts (like medical or credit card bills) might not need to be paid from your estate assets.

What if You Leave Inheritance to Minors?

If you leave anything to children under 18 without a trust or custodian designation, a court will have to appoint someone a guardian to manage it. This can be expensive and slow, and the investments are typically very conservative. At 18, the child receives everything, which isn’t always ideal.

What if You Are Unable to Manage Your Affairs?

If you become unable to make decisions and don’t have a power of attorney in place, the court will appoint someone to manage your health and financial matters. This takes time and money, and the court may not appoint your chosen candidate. A properly prepared financial and health care power of attorney allows someone you trust to immediately take over, saving time, preserving privacy, and reducing stress.

Next Steps

To avoid probate and ensure your wishes are respected, consider speaking with an estate planning attorney. Proper planning helps avoid probate, saves your family from unnecessary hassles, and ensures your assets and health care are handled in accordance with your wishes.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Owner and Attorney at The Perla Law Firm, LLC

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