Law With a "Personal Touch"
PROBATE - ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
Your loved one has died or perhaps someone has approached you regarding settling a loved one's final affairs. What should you do?
You may either accept appointment upon application to the probate court or you may decline to serve as administrator of the deceased's estate. Let's assume that your loved one had a personal will, and he or she named you in that will to be the Executor or Executrix to administer that will. You agreed.
What is an estate administration?
Briefly, an estate administration is the process by which the deceased's estate, that is all his/her worldly possessions, expenses and obligations, are disposed of for the final time, according to the blueprint your loved one left, his Last Will and Testament. You will carry out your loved one's instructions as laid down in the blueprint, with the assistance of your Attorney and the local probate court, all pursuant to law.
What is the role of the Executor?
You must initiate the estate administration process. Following the final burial of your loved one, or sooner if you know of something in the Will which requires immediate attention, such as burial instructions, Retrieve the Last Will and Testament form its storage place. Years ago there used to be formal readings of the Will, usually in an attorney's office. This is no longer the customary practice, but may be used if circumstances warrant it.
There are three probate administration types now in use in Ohio. Each one involves its own unique requirements, forms, and procedures. Your attorney will advise you which one is best suited to your particular circumstances following an initial consultation. Sometimes, a formal probate procedure may not be required at all. Your attorney will advise you.
The usual practice today, and your first duty as Executor, will be to obtain an Attorney to assist you with the legal requirements of the administration, and file the original Will, along with an Application to Probate the Will, with the appropriate probate court. This will start the process, which involves many legal forms, perhaps multiple accountings to the Court of how you have carried out your loved one's directions, and your physically handling the winding up of the deceased's last affairs, that is, his debts, the beneficiaries legacies as directed in the Will, filing any taxes if they are owed, and generally seeing to it that the Will's directives are followed to the letter, all according the law. Your Attorney will assist you with advice and the court proceedings as the process proceeds through the next few months. The probate court must approve your actions at various stages along the way. This it will do by orders and approvals of accounts and motions you present to it.
Upon receiving your Letters of Authority/Appointment from the probate court as fiduciary of the estate, you will be the contact person for all the creditors of the Estate, [the deceased], the beneficiaries, and anyone having official business with the Estate. You will make numerous decisions along the way regarding these interests, with the advice of your Attorney and perhaps the approval of the Court. You will write estate checks to pay the creditors, pay any costs of administering the estate, and finally the distribution of any legacies to the beneficiaries named in the Will, according to the blueprint written in the Will. There is a certain formality to all of this, required by law, pertaining to where, when, and how these things may be done by you. Your Attorney shall assist you. Ask as many questions as you feel necessary.
Your Attorney only assists and provides advice on the best ways and proper procedures to accomplish what you are required to do under the Will. You are responsible for accomplishing the result. You even have an official judicial office to accomplish all you need to do; you hold the office of Fiduciary of the Estate, which is the Executor or Executrix. You will hold this office until released by the probate court upon completion and closing of the Estate. You even get paid a fee for your labor, should you choose to request one.
Who pays for all of this?
The answer is the deceased, through his Estate, which you represent as the Fiduciary. During the administration, you will collect all moneys, financial accounts, insurance, stocks, real estate, etc. belonging to the deceased. Some of this you may convert to money, which will be deposited into an Estate Account, which you will open at a local bank. As Fiduciary, you will be the owner of the account, on behalf of the Estate. It is from this account that you will pay all the obligations of the Estate to the creditors of the Estate, keeping accurate records of each transaction for review by the court and your attorney. Any debts you feel are not valid or warranted, you may elect to deny, defending the estate from those creditors before the probate court. From what is left after the bills have been paid, you will distribute the inheritances left to the beneficiaries named in the Will. You will also pay any estate tax which may be owed by the estate and the deceased's last income tax return. These are the essential services you perform as fiduciary. There are many procedural details you will need to learn along the way to accomplish your task, which your attorney will assist you with.
It is recommended that you seek legal representation during any probate procedure. The professional assistance and advice will be invaluable to you.
TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU:
- Neighborhood Clients: Catalina Manufactured Home Park at 6501 Germantown Rd., Lot 41, Middletown, Ohio, 45042, on State Route #4 [My Home - by appointment only] (Near the Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park.)
- Dayton area clients: I'm available at 4130 Linden Avenue, Claypool Building, Suite 304, Dayton, Ohio, 45432 courtesy of my good friend, R. Jason Howard. [by appointment only]
- Phone: 513 423-8912
THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS SITE IS INTENDED TO BE A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF SOME OF THE LEGAL PROCESSES INVOLVED IN THE ISSUES ADDRESSED. ALL INFORMATION IS LIMITED TO OHIO. IT IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE ON YOUR PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES. IT IS ONLY INTENDED TO ASSIST YOU IN UNDERSTANDING THOSE PROCESSES.