last will and testament doesnt avoid probate

Why You Should Avoid Probate in Ohio

Gregory S. DuPont Oct. 19, 2022

When you die, your relatives may need to sign specific paperwork to get their inheritance. That is part of the probate process. Your estate will likely have to go through probate if you own property in your name alone, and don’t complete a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation on said property. For example, a house, car, bank account, investment account, or another asset.

Having a will is a helpful first step in basic preparation. But it does not prevent probate. A will simply allows you to communicate your wishes to the probate court. Your loved ones still must go through the probate process to legally enforce your wishes.

Many Ohioans want to avoid probate for these three reasons:

  1. All of it is public information

  2. Probate can be expensive

  3. It can take a long time to complete

Now, let’s dive into these three reasons in a little more detail.

Probate Becomes Public Information

Everything that goes through the Court becomes public record, including probate. This means that documents that include private family and financial information could be accessible to any one that wants to see them. However, this does not mean that account and Social Security numbers. The courts have at least taken steps to prevent identity theft. What it does mean is that information about your accounts, property, debts, and beneficiaries are made public, including contact details for your family members. Even family disputes that affect how your money and property are distributed may be made public. Most people prefer to keep this kind of information private. So, avoiding probate is the best method to guarantee confidentiality.

Probate Can Be Expensive

The cost of probate can climb into the hundreds of dollars when you combine court fees, legal fees, executor fees, and other associated charges. That includes even modest and straightforward cases. If there are any family disputes or creditor claims during the process, these costs could increase by tens of thousands of dollars or more. Your assets should go to your loved ones after your death, not to creditors and lawyers. But this can happen if you go through probate.

Of course, there are costs associated with creating an estate plan that avoids probate as well. But take this quote into consideration:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -Benjamin Franklin

The “ounce of prevention” costs you incur now to put a plan in place are more easily controlled than uncertain costs in the future, especially when you take into account that your loved ones may be making decisions while grieving.

Planning ahead can help you save money and avoid costly disputes. If there’s no probate case, there will be no probate filing fees or court costs.

The Probate Process Can Take Months to Years

Probate is often a lengthy procedure. In Ohio, it usually takes about 6 months if everything runs smoothly. However, it can take much longer depending on the value, quantity, and complexity of the decedent's accounts and property. If there are family and/or creditor disputes, expect a long legal battle ahead. During this time your intended beneficiaries likely won’t have easy access to the money and assets you wanted to give them. This wait can be particularly challenging for family members who are struggling and could benefit from a quicker, easier approach, like the living trust administration process. By avoiding probate, assets may be distributed faster, allowing recipients to start enjoying their inheritance sooner.

If you have property in multiple states, the probate process must be redone in each state you hold property. Each state’s process can be different. This repetition can cost your loved ones even more time and money. The good news is that there are many ways to avoid probate. With trust-centered estate planning you can avoid probate in all states, simplify the transfer of your financial legacy, and provide lifelong tax savings and asset protection to your family.

Our experienced estate planning attorneys in Dublin, Ohio are ready to assist you. Call 614-389-9711 to schedule a strategy session.

Ready to get started? Check out our Consumer’s Guide to Estate Planning in Ohio.