Probate is an area of the law dealing with wills and inheritances, and the granting of probate is the first step in the process of managing the deceased person's estate. Ohio law does not require a lawyer for the probate process. However, if you are the executor or the administrator of the deceased person's probate estate, it may be in your best interest to seek legal assistance.
Here are just a few of the tasks that will be your responsibility, and some of the issues that may arise.
Tasks of the executor
As executor, you will be faced with a number of important tasks regarding the deceased person's estate, including the following:
- Conducting an inventory of the deceased person's property
- Collecting debts owed to the deceased
- Using assets of the estate to pay its debts and taxes
- Taking care of the property, expenses and assets of the estate until they are ready to be distributed
- Carrying out the probate court's instructions regarding the estate
To ensure that the beneficiaries get the full benefit of their inheritance, you may have to take care of investments, financial accounts, real and personal property and other assets as the estate moves through probate. Once the process is complete and the judge has validated the will, you must distribute the assets according to the instructions.
Probate legal issues
A myriad of legal issues can come about during the probate process. For example, one of the beneficiaries, or a family member who the deceased did not name as a beneficiary, may challenge the terms of the will. This could be based on a claim that the deceased was incompetent or influenced by someone who is receiving a larger share of the inheritance. The person who brings the challenge may present an alternative will and claim that it is the most recent. In any case, the challenger is likely to have an attorney to contest the validity of the will in court.
Regardless of what legal problems arise, you want to be able to handle any roadblocks that come your way and fulfill your role of executor as the deceased wished.