After an individual passes, that person's estate may need to go through probate. In Ohio, estates worth $35,000 or less may be relieved from some of the administrative requirements. That number increases to $100,000 if a surviving spouse inherits all of a deceased person's assets. Probate is necessary as it allows an executor to protect and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries.
It also provides a way for taxes or other outstanding debts to be paid. Administrative fees may be taken care of through the probate process as well. When an estate is probated, a person must be named to oversee its handling. When named in a will, that person is called an executor. If no one is named in a will, someone will be appointed by the court to fulfill this role, and he or she will be referred to as an administrator.
This person is responsible for a variety of tasks, such as protecting property or collecting debts owed to the estate. He or she may also be responsible for filing income or estate tax returns as well as obtaining the names, addresses and ages of beneficiaries and heirs. An executor or administrator may also be required to follow any instructions given by the court. Probate judges and support staff generally supervise the activities of an executor or administrator.
Most people, regardless of their age or net worth, can benefit from a legally sound estate plan. Wills or trusts may dictate who receives property after a person passes away or how property is to be managed if a beneficiary is still a minor. Careful planning may also make the probate process easier if applicable.