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What to expect during probate

If an estate holder creates a will, it will be authenticated and its instructions followed during probate. Probate is also used to determine how much an estate is worth and pay any taxes or other debts that an estate owes. For Ohio residents, state law will specifically determine how the probate process is conducted.

A personal representative will be appointed by a judge during such proceedings. Typically, this person is actually designated in the will. Absent such an appointment, a child or other relative may assume this role. When inventorying assets, the personal representative will determine the estate's value based on the date of death. An outside appraisal can be performed to get an accurate value. Although creditors and others are free to make claims against an estate, the executor may deny them if there isn't evidence to support their validity.

Taxes and other debts owed are paid from funds or other assets inside of the estate. Whatever is left over can then be distributed to beneficiaries after getting permission from the court to do so. In the event that a person dies intestate, state law usually requires that the deceased person's closest relatives inherit his or her assets. A person could die intestate if a will is declared invalid or one was never written.

There are estate planning tools available that may help to keep assets out of probate. For instance, an estate holder could put assets in a trust or choose to title them in a manner that transfers ownership upon death. An attorney could help a client create, review or alter an estate plan. Regular reviews may ensure that a plan meets an estate holder's needs at all times.

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