Most people want to avoid probate court at death, and for good reason. Probate court takes a lot of time, attorney fees and court costs are high, and the proceedings are public record. When is probate court necessary and how can you avoid it?
Probate court is necessary when there are probate assets, which means if you do not have a beneficiary designation on accounts, they will be administered through the probate court. And if you don’t have a Last Will and Testament, an administrator will distribute your assets to the closest living relatives according to Ohio Law.
So how do you prevent that from happening?
If you have non probate assets, they will not have to go through probate court. Common non probate assets include financial accounts that are payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) to a beneficiary, life insurance policies, joint with rights of survivorship accounts, and a Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit for real estate. When you pass, these accounts will go straight to the beneficiary. If you have a Last Will and Testament, your executor will pay your final legal expenses and distribute accordingly to the beneficiaries listed in the will.
You can also avoid probate court by creating a revocable trust. A trust is recommended if there are minor children, multiple beneficiaries with different distribution amounts or complicated assets. There are other trusts that are necessary for disabled beneficiaries, but a revocable trust will collect the assets and distribute according to the terms of the trust. It is much like a probate estate, except that it is private, cost effective, and can be done relatively quickly.
The above options are examples of how you can avoid probate court. Only after speaking with an estate planning attorney, will you find what works best for you and your family.