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What is a summary release, and how does it affect probate?

Estates come in many different sizes. Some estates contain significant physical property, while others are made up of cash and real estate.

Understanding the process of distributing your loved one’s estate can be a lot to think about in addition to grieving their passing. When it comes time to file for probate, it is essential to know the value of your loved one’s estate.

Here’s what you need to know about the probate process for smaller estates.

Estates that qualify for a summary release from administration

There are some states where every estate goes through the probate process, regardless of size. In Ohio, however, there is a shorter process for smaller estates. If an estate meets either of the two following conditions, it qualifies for a summary release:

  • The person applying for summary release has paid the funeral bill (or is obligated in writing to pay), and the value of the estate is under $5,000.00
  • There is a surviving spouse who is entitled to 100 percent of the family allowance, the assets do not exceed $45,000.00 and the funeral bill was prepaid, or the surviving spouse is obligated to pay for the funeral expenses.

What does a summary release mean?

A summary release does not mean there is nothing for a surviving spouse or personal representative to do; it is simply a shorter process. There is still a filing process for summary release, along with a filing fee. In addition to the application for a summary release from administration, you may need to file other forms for specific circumstances, including:

  • Presence (or absence) of a will
  • Surviving spouse and next of kin
  • Estates that include real estate

While summary release may not take as long as the full probate process, there is still a significant amount of coordination for the estate’s personal representative.

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