Some people in Ohio may be aware that probate is the process a will goes through after the death of the person who created it, but they might not know all the steps involved. First, the will must be authenticated by a judge. Most wills name an executor to manage the estate. This person might also be referred to as the administrator or personal representative. If no one is named, the judge may appoint someone.
The executor then has the responsibility of locating the assets of the decedent and finding out how much they are worth. This might include hiring appraisers in some cases. It is also necessary to identify any creditors. The executor then pays all bills owed by the estate. If a creditor's claim does not seem legitimate, the executor may reject it. If the creditor takes the issue to court, a probate judge may decide whether or not the claim should be paid. The executor also has to prepare and file any final income tax returns. This includes any estate tax owed. Finally, once all the bills are paid, distributions can be made to beneficiaries.
A person who does not have a will or whose will is declared invalid by the court is considered to have died intestate. In this case, state law determines how assets are distributed.
An executor is not expected to be an expert on financial and legal matters, so an attorney may be able to assist a person who has questions about estate administration and probate. There might be other aspects of the estate plan to deal with such as beneficiary designations and trusts, or there may be complications such as challenges to the will. If possible, an executor should discuss the estate plan with the creator while that person is still alive and find out where important documents are kept.