Ohio Probate Process & the Probate Court - Part II

Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about probate court and probate laws that we receive at our Dayton, Ohio probate attorneys' office.

In this part of the series we'll answer the following basic questions about probate:

  • What is a testate estate?
  • What is an intestate estate?
  • What is a joint tenancy and how does it avoid probate?
  • What are POD accounts and how do they avoid probate?

We hope that the answers provided here will be helpful. If you desire more detailed answers to questions about Ohio probate process, please look for other articles from the Ohio probate attorneys' firm of Gudorf Law Group, LLC.

Ohio Probate Process Answers:

What is a testate estate?

A testate estate is one for which the decedent (the person who died and left the estate) has drawn up and signed a will. The will provides instructions for distributing the estate amongst the testator's heirs, outlining who is to get which assets, and names an executor to handle the distribution. When there is a will for an estate, the probate court usually adheres to the dictates of the will. However, some circumstances will require the court to do otherwise, such as when a surviving spouse is not left all that the law entitles her or him to.

What is an intestate estate?

An intestate estate is one for which the decedent did not create a will. Without a will to guide the distribution of the estate assets, Ohio probate law determines who the decedent's heirs are and how much they receive. The law for this Ohio probate process attempts to distribute the estate amongst the family members in a way most people would want their estate distributed. For example, if there is a surviving spouse, the spouse will get most of the estate because there is an assumption that most people would want most of their estate to go to their surviving spouse. Another difference between testate and intestate estates is who carries out the Ohio probate process. Since there is no will, no executor is named. Therefore, the probate court appoints an administrator to carry out the executor's duties. An administrator can be anyone connected to the decedent who applies to be appointed or a professional, such as Dayton, Ohio probate attorneys, selected by the court. Administrators must meet the same requirements as executors to be appointed and approved by the probate court.

What is a joint tenancy and how does it avoid probate?

Joint tenancy is a form of real estate ownership in which two or more people own real estate equally. This is most commonly seen in the form of a married couple who own their home equally. If real estate is owned in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and at least one owner survives the death of another, the property will pass directly to the surviving owners and will not pass through probate because the beneficiary has already been determined. If real estate is owned in joint tenancy but there are no rights of survivorship, the portion of the real estate owned by the decedent must go through probate and be handed down to the decedent's heirs.

What are POD accounts and how do they avoid probate?

"POD" is an acronym for Payable on Death. POD accounts are financial assets that have a designated beneficiary and the funds of the accounts go directly to the beneficiaries without passing through probate. POD accounts can include bank accounts, investment accounts and similar financial vehicles. Life insurance is another form of POD account as the proceeds are paid directly to the designated beneficiaries.

Get more help with Ohio probate process matters:

Gudorf Law Group, LLC, can assist with probate court proceedings and other aspects of the Ohio probate process. Call our Dayton, Ohio, probate attorneys' office at 1-877-483-6730 to schedule a free consultation.