Avoiding Probate with the Help of an Ohio Estate Probate Attorney

Avoiding Probate with the Help of an Ohio Estate and Probate Attorney

By Daniel A. Perry, Esq.

When we assist a family through the Probate Court administration of an estate after the death of a loved one, they typically have two universal complaints:

• This took way too long to get the court to sign all the necessary documents to distribute the assets.
• This cost way too much just to transfer the few items out of my loved one’s name and to pay her final bills.

Why Does The Process Take So Long?

There are a number of court deadlines which are imposed including one for filing the initial pleadings, one for filing the inventory and schedule of assets, and one for filing the final accounting before the assets are distributed to the heirs.

In addition, the court usually needs time to schedule all the various hearings that keep the case proceeding forward. If there is even one person who is uncooperative and will not sign the required court waivers, then everything stops. The Judge will schedule a hearing and require all the parties to come into court.

There may also be assets that need to be sold — such as real estate or vehicles — that may require court approval.

On average, this can last between ten to twelve months, but could extend to two years or longer.

Why Does Probate Court Cost So Much?

Attorney’s fees are set by the Probate Court with what is called a guideline fee. Listed below are standard attorney’s fees which you may expect to pay:

Estate Size       Guideline Attorney’s Fees

$300,000           $12,000
$500,000           $17,500
$750,000           $22,500
$1,000,000        $27,500

As you can see, probate attorney fees can get quite expensive if you are just transferring the home and a few other assets out of the person’s name after their death.

Whenever I speak about the costs and time frame of Probate Court, I am always asked the question:

  • Can we avoid probate?

The good answer is yes, but only if you plan in advance.

In Ohio, as well as many other states, probate is required to transfer assets out of your name to your loved ones, either according to Ohio law or according to your Last Will and Testament. This may include your home, tangible personal property, bank accounts, investment accounts, and any variety of other assets you may own.

However, one way to avoid probate is to not allow Ohio law nor your Last Will and Testament to determine where your assets will be distributed upon your death. The other way — which many Ohio families choose — is to create a Revocable Living Trust.

Through the proper establishment and funding of a Revocable Living Trust, your trust will determine how your assets will be distributed and who will oversee the distribution of your estate. By this process, your estate could be settled within months as opposed to years. In addition, the cost of setting up a trust is normally only a fraction of what your family will be required to pay to administer your estate through the Probate Court process.

In a future article, we will discuss what a Revocable Living Trust is and how to create one.

If you have questions about Probate or Revocable Living Trusts and what estate planning strategy would be best for you and your family, please contact our office at (513) 241-0400 or use our contact form to schedule a time to discuss your goals for your family. Our Ohio Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys look forward to speaking with you!