Probate & Estate ATTORNEY in Columbus
The Ohio probate court and estate administration process can be complex and confusing, with many legal requirements that must be followed. At Winkler Legal, our Columbus probate attorney can help you navigate these affairs and lay the matter to rest. We represent estate executors, administrators, and beneficiaries through the complicated proceedings of estate administration and the probate court. We know that the death of a loved one is challenging enough, which is why we offer full-service estate administration services that relieve you of the day-to-day tasks necessary to properly administer an estate.
What Does it Mean to Probate an Estate in Columbus?
Columbus, and every other county in Ohio, has a Probate Court which is responsible for supervising the administration of estates in probate. In order to probate an estate, a case must be filed (ideally by a Columbus probate attorney) in the probate court where the decedent resided immediately before death. If a decedent had a will, the will must be filed with the Probate Court to proceed. If a decedent did not have a will, the estate is then probated in accordance with the Ohio Descent and Distribution statute. The Probate Court has jurisdiction to ensure that the estate is administered correctly and in accordance with the decedent’s will. At Winkler Legal, our Columbus Probate attorney works with you and to ensure that the decedent’s final wishes are honored, and their estate is properly distributed.
What is Probate Court?
Each county in Ohio has a Probate Court, which is responsible for supervising the administration of estates in the state of Ohio. If a decedent did not have a will, the estate Descent and Distribution statute. If a decedent had a Will, the Will must be filed with the Probate Court in the county where the decedent resided immediately before death. The Probate Court has jurisdiction to ensure that the estate is administered correctly and in accordance with the decedent’s Will.
What is a Probate Estate?
The “probate estate” is comprised of all property owned by the decedent that does not automatically pass to another by beneficiary designation (e.g. life insurance and IRA’s), joint ownership with right of survivorship (e.g. real estate), financial accounts (checking and savings accounts), or by operation of law (joint ownership of an asset). The Columbus probate attorney at Winkler Legal will help you review your beneficiary designations to ensure they are up to date.
What does it mean to Probate an estate?
In order to probate an estate, a case must be filed (ideally by a probate attorney) in the probate court where the decedent resided immediately before death. The decedent’s last will is filed with the probate court to be probated. If the decedent did not have a will, the estate (inheritances) will be in accordance with Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute. It is important to have a current estate plan in place so that you have control over the distribution of your assets at your death. Our probate lawyers in Columbus, Ohio are here to help you with estate planning and wills.
What are the duties of an executor or administrator?
An executor is a person designated in a Will to gather assets, pay the decedent’s bills, and administer the estate in a timely manner. An administrator is the individual appointed by the probate court when the decedent dies without a Will. The administrator has the same duties as an executor, except that the administrator must seek permission from the court to carry-out certain duties and must also post a bond before being appointed. Executors and administrators must be a resident of the state of Ohio in order to serve. Lastly, both executors and administrators are deemed “fiduciaries” which requires of them the highest legal standard to always act in the best interests of the estate beneficiaries when administering an estate.
Relief from Administration
In Ohio, if the total value of all property in the decedent’s name is $35,000 or less, the estate can be relieved from Ohio’s formal estate administration requirements. Please contact Winkler Legal so our probate lawyers in Columbus, Ohio can assist you in obtaining relief from estate administration.
If a dispute arises as to the validity of a Will, interested individuals may contest the Will submitted to the probate court. There are time restraints as to challenging a will, so it is important to seek the legal advice of a probate and estate attorney in Columbus who is well versed in Will Contests.
Spousal Elective Share
As a spouse of a decedent, you may inherit from your spouse’s probate estate as provided for under your spouse’s Will, or you can decide not to take your inheritance under the Will and elect to take according to Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute. Ohio’s Descent and Distribution statute sets-forth expectancy rights of heirs at law based upon living children, parents, or other close relatives. A probate attorney in Columbus can help you decide what to do in these cases.
Probate is an extremely complex procedure, and the duties of executors and administrators are often overwhelming. When an executor is named, or an administrator is appointed, they are expected to manage and organize the distribution of a decedent’s assets in a fair and timely manner. However, this is an extremely challenging and time-consuming process, especially in the wake of the loss of a loved one. At Winkler Legal, we can help. Our Columbus probate attorneys and paralegals can assist you with the responsibilities of administering a decedent’s estate, from sifting through records to documenting and tracking assets.
Probate is, at its core, a legal process determining the distribution of a decedent’s assets. However, it isn’t always a clear-cut case. In many instances, a facet of the distribution will be contested and will require litigation. With Winkler Legal, our Columbus Probate attorney represents you and your interests in court to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are followed and distributions are accurate. We are able to handle the multitude of issues that may arise in the probate process, including:
- Concealment Actions- In some cases, you may believe that the fiduciary or executor is attempting to hide property or assets from the probate court and beneficiaries. When this happens, a probate attorney can help you recover the concealed assets and secure additional compensation.
- Will Contests- In some instances, the very validity of the will may be in question. A probate lawyer may be asked to substantiate a will’s legitimacy, including the competency of the testator, any potential undue influence at the time of it’s writing, or noncompliance with Ohio Law when the will was created. When this happens, a trial of the will contest must be held before any further action can be taken in probate.
- Beneficiary Representation- While beneficiaries do not have the same responsibilities as an executor or an administrator, their rights must also be defended. A probate attorney can represent a beneficiary to ensure they receive that which they are entitled to under the will or by law.
The appointment of a Guardian may be necessary when an individual or loved one is unable to properly care for themselves and/or manage their financial affairs. The guardianship process entails filing an application with the Probate court where the ward (the person for which a guardian is appointed) resides. The application must be accompanied by a Statement of Expert Evaluation that is completed by a licensed physician or psychologist finding that the Ward is needing the appointment of a guardian. There are three types of guardianships – guardian over the person, guardian over the estate (financial affairs), and guardian over the person and estate.
A Guardianship can be established for minor children and adults that are unable to care for themselves. Usually, the guardian appointed over a child is a person designated a parent’s last will.
At Winkler Legal, we offer guardianship legal services including the preparation and filing of guardianship applications, attendance at court hearings, and representing and advising Ohio guardians in furtherance of their duties. If you would like to learn more about Ohio guardianships, please call Winkler Legal for a free 15-minute consultation.
Adoptions are often an overlooked aspect of probate. When a parent passes away, their child’s care needs to be determined quickly and carefully. A probate court has the authority to approve adoptions to ensure the child is looked after by an appropriate person.
How Winkler Legal Helps You Avoid Probate
Probate is an arduous process and it’s best to avoid it entirely. It is important to have an up-to-date estate plan in place so that you have control over the distribution of your assets in the event of your death. At Winkler Legal, our Columbus probate lawyers are here to help. We work with you to establish a will, comprehensive estate plan, long-term care plan, and asset protection so you can keep your estate out of probate entirely.
With knowledge and foresight, we assist our clients in being involved and informed in their unique decision-making process. We offer a wealth of information including videos, detailed blog postings on hot topics, informational articles, and comprehensive seminars to educate our clients. If you have any questions, we offer free consultations to discuss your personal needs.