How to Avoid Probate

When a loved one passes away, there are a lot of questions you might ask yourself. What happens now? How will their family hold up? Did they know how much I loved them? It is always an emotional and stressful time, both personally and inside a family. One of the questions you might not ask yourself right away is “What will happen to all of their stuff?” Unfortunately, the answer for many Ohio residents is decided in probate court.

Probate is the process where it is decided in court what will happen to someone’s belongings and money left behind after they pass away. Their belongings are known as their estate, including any property which they may have owned. Any money left behind, in bank accounts or cash, is known as their assets. The outcome of both of these is determined in court within the state that they lived in. So if they lived in Ohio, they will attend probate court in Ohio, even if they passed away in another state.

Hearing the word “court” may conjure up images of dramatic trials with shouting lawyers, crying witnesses, and dramatic revelations. That’s not exactly accurate. Probate court may be more similar to going to court for a speeding ticket. It is a process expected to happen to everyone at some point in their life – although there is a way to avoid it. Probate court does have some things in common with those television trials – expensive lawyers and an extremely long process time. It is not uncommon for probate to take over a year to be finalized.

A loved one can contest in probate court as well, which means disputing the court’s decision and arguing that something should be delivered to them. This complicates and lengthens the process further. Probate is a long, expensive, and emotionally draining process for the loved ones of someone who has passed away. Any assets they left behind are frequently depleted by the end of the process. That’s not to say there aren’t ways to be smart about it and streamline probate. A good lawyer will help you do that. Is there a way to avoid it entirely?

There is only one method, and that is through Estate Planning. Estate Planning is a process by which someone works with a lawyer to put down in writing what they want to happen to their assets and estate. These requests will be respected in probate and avoid the use of lawyers and years of your loved one’s lives. It is important to note that Estate Planning, like probate, should happen in the state you currently live. Every state has different rules that your lawyer will need to know and abide by.

You have probably heard of Estate Planning in the context of making a Will, but it also includes Trusts, Transfers, and much more. At Charles Tyler, Sr., Esq. Attorney and Counselor At Law, we will work with you to find what methods best fit your family situation. Contact us today to create an Estate Plan and avoid putting your loved ones through the stress and pain of probate. We are your caring and committed Ohio law firm, and we can’t wait to hear from you!

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