One of the many reasons that people hate it when an estate goes through probate is that it can take a long time to “settle” the estate and finally give the heirs their inheritance.
You can generally expect the probate process in Ohio to last a minimum of six months — although there are ways to shorten that time considerably. The reason for the six-month minimum is that state law gives creditors six months from the deceased’s date of death to serve the executor of that person’s estate with claims.
For example, imagine that your father passed away after a brief illness. For the most part, he had no debts — except a final hospital bill that hadn’t even had time to be fully calculated and run through the insurance by the time he died. The hospital would ordinarily have six months to present a claim on the estate for whatever the insurance didn’t pay.
However, there is a way to shorten this period. An executor can accelerate the time limit creditors have to work within to just 30 days. Under Ohio law, the executor merely needs to properly notify the creditor in writing about the decedent’s death and tell the creditor that all claims against the estate have to be presented in writing within 30 days of receipt of the notice. Claims that are presented after that would be barred by statute.
There are some potential claims against an estate that can’t be accelerated. For example, secured debts (like a home loan) and orders of support for minor children left behind are generally exempt from the normal time limits.
This is just one of the many complex issues that can face the administrator of an estate. That’s one of the reasons that many people seek legal assistance when they have been named the executor of someone’s will.