Ohio probate: the ultimate guide

If you’re looking for information about probate in Ohio, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a detailed overview of probate in Ohio, and to find out if you qualify for simplified probate procedures.

Do you need probate in Ohio?

Probate is a legal process which involves distributing a person’s assets and covering their debts and taxes after they die. Assets held or titled solely in the decedent’s name will generally go through the probate process before being distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.  

 Examples of probate assets include:

  • Single name bank or investment accounts
  • Assets owned jointly as tenants in common (as opposed to joint tenancy)
  • Art and collectibles
  • A house in a single name
  • An automobile in a single name
  • Safety deposit box contents

Not all assets go through probate. Assets that automatically transfer to another person without a court order will avoid probate.

See: What assets go through probate?

Generally, joint accounts and accounts or assets with beneficiary designations (e.g. life insurance and retirement accounts) will avoid probate. A properly funded revocable trust will also avoid probate.

See: When is probate not necessary?

Simplified probate procedures in Ohio

For smaller estates, Ohio allows for simplified probate procedures. You may qualify for one of these simplified probate procedures in Ohio if:

  • The value of the estate is $35,000 or less, or
  • The value of the estate is $100,000 or less and the surviving spouse inherits 100%, or
  • The estate is valued at $5000 or less OR the funeral expenses are greater than the estate.

To use one of the simplified probate procedures described above, you will need to submit an affidavit — a notarized statement completed under oath — to the court, which it then uses as evidence.

If you have probate assets, and the assets do not qualify for a simplified procedure based on the amounts and description listed above, then you will be required to go through the full probate process.

See: What Is the Probate Process?

Who is in charge of the estate?

If there is a will, an executor is named in the will to manage the probate estate. If the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, then the next executor named in the will (called the successor executor) can serve.

If no one named in the will can serve as executor, then the beneficiaries of the will must appoint a person to administer the estate. The beneficiaries must either agree unanimously or reach a majority vote. If not, the probate court decides.

Similarly, if there is no will, the heirs at law must decide and agree on who will administer the estate. The “heirs at law” are usually the surviving spouse, or if there is no surviving spouse, then the children of the deceased, with certain exceptions for blended families. The heirs at law must either agree unanimously or reach a majority vote.

See: Intestate Succession - How to probate when there is no will

What do I need to get started on the probate process?

Before you file a probate, there are a few things you need to get in order:

  • A death certificate
  • The will (if there is one)
  • The names and addresses of the heirs or beneficiaries  

The first step is to give notice to all the beneficiaries or heirs. If you are the one who either intends to manage the probate estate or you are named in the will to manage the probate estate (and you accept the position), it is your job to give notice and gather the signatures.            

How long does probate in Ohio take?

In Ohio, creditors have six months to file claims. That means that after a probate is opened, the probate will not be completed in less than six months. That does not mean nothing gets done for six months. On the contrary, assets can be sold off and converted to cash, and taxes can get finalized, for example. The probate court, however, will not let you close the probate until the deadline for creditors has passed and all other necessary paperwork is completed.

How much does probate cost in Ohio?

Here’s an overview of the approximate costs of Ohio probate:

  • Court costs for various filing fees will total approximately $225.  
  • Attorney fees vary. Hourly fees for attorneys can range from $150 to $300 per hour. For a simple probate, where it does not look like fighting and litigation will occur, it’s probably reasonable to estimate attorney fees at a minimum of $2500. These fees are greatly reduced when you use EZ-probate and do probate on your own without an attorney. You can get started for free with our EZ-Probate Intake Form.
  • A fee will sometimes need to be paid to person managing the probate, which is usually a percentage of the probate estate, for example, 2%. (The fee is often waived.)
  • If an asset in question has an uncertain value and needs to be appraised (such as cars or antiques), you will want to be prepared to pay an appraisal fee.   
  • Depending on the state that the property is in, you may need to pay an estate tax. Ohio does not have a state estate tax (it was repealed in 2013). Furthermore, the federal estate tax only applies to multi-million dollar or billion dollar estates and affects less than 1% of the country.

Want to get a head start on the probate process?

The first step towards getting a probate opened is completing our online Intake Form. If you have already started it, you can always go back and finish it.

If you have questions, schedule a free consultation today.