Avoiding Probate in Ohio

Unsure about the Ohio probate? There’s another way.

Are you a resident living in Westerville and wondering how to avoid probate in Ohio? Probate is the court-supervised process that settles a deceased person’s estate.  

While probate is essential, it can be time-consuming and expensive. Fortunately, there are strategies for avoiding probate in Ohio, which can save your beneficiaries time, money, and unnecessary stress.

Quick Summary:

  • Probate is a court-supervised process for settling a deceased person’s estate, ensuring proper distribution of assets. While essential, probate can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Avoiding probate can save time, money, and maintain privacy for families. Strategies such as joint ownership, beneficiary designations, and living trusts offer alternatives to the probate process.
  • Joint ownership, beneficiary designations, transfer-on-death registrations, and living trusts can help bypass probate court. Planning ahead with legal assistance ensures assets are distributed smoothly and according to your wishes.

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised legal process that oversees the administration of a deceased person’s estate.  This means the court takes control of the deceased’s assets (their estate) to ensure they are distributed properly.  Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved in probate:

  • Identifying and Valuing Assets: The court will first identify all the assets the deceased owned at the time of death. This can include things like real estate, bank accounts, investments, vehicles, and personal belongings. Each asset will then be appraised to determine its current value.
  • Paying Debts and Taxes: The probate process ensures all outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased are paid before any assets are distributed. This includes debts like mortgages, credit card balances, and unpaid income taxes.
  • Distributing Remaining Assets: Once all debts and taxes are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will (if there is one) or according to state intestacy laws (if there is no will).

The Importance of Probate

While probate can be time-consuming and involve some costs, it’s an important legal process that ensures the deceased’s assets are distributed according to their wishes (if a will exists) or following a fair and established legal framework (through intestacy laws).

Why Should You Avoid Probate?

Probate can be a long and expensive process that can cause problems for your loved ones after you’re gone. Let’s break down why it’s a good idea to avoid it:

Public Knowledge

When your estate goes through probate, everyone can see the details. That means your finances, who gets what, and even family arguments over money can become public. This lack of privacy can be a big issue for families who prefer to keep their financial matters private.


Probate involves a lot of fees, like court costs, lawyer fees, and more. Even a simple probate can cost hundreds of dollars. But if there are disputes or fights over the estate, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars. And all these costs come out of the estate’s money, meaning there’s less left for your loved ones.


Probate can take a long time, sometimes years. During this time, your beneficiaries have to wait to get what you left for them. This can be especially tough if they relied on your money for support. Meanwhile, if assets are distributed through a trust, it’s usually much quicker because it doesn’t have to go through all the legal processes of probate.

So, avoiding probate can save your family time, money, and stress in the long run. It’s a good idea to plan ahead to make sure your assets go where you want them to without all the hassle of probate.

How to Avoid Probate in Ohio?

Imagine a mom and daughter discussing their plans for the future. Probate, which is like a big legal process after someone passes away, can be really complicated and take a long time. But in Ohio, there are ways to skip all that hassle. Here’s how:

Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship

Joint ownership is when multiple people share ownership of something, such as a house or bank account. If one owner dies, the other automatically inherits everything in Ohio, bypassing probate.

  • Joint Tenancy: This is when two or more people own something together, like a house or a bank account. If one owner dies, the others automatically get what’s left without any probate hassle. This is great for couples or friends who want to share ownership equally.
  • Tenancy by the Entirety: This is just like joint tenancy, but it’s only for married couples in Ohio. It’s a bit different because it can only be used for real estate, like houses. While you can’t create new ones anymore, if you made one between 1972 and 1985, it’s still valid.

Beneficiary Designations for Retirement Accounts and Life Insurance

Many retirement accounts, like IRAs and 401(k)s, and life insurance policies let you pick who gets the money after you pass away. This choice, called a beneficiary, takes priority over anything in your will. It basically means these things won’t go through probate court.

Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities

If you have investments like stocks or bonds, you can set them up in what’s called a transfer-on-death (TOD) form. This means you pick someone to inherit them when you’re gone. They’ll get them automatically without any court matters, and they just need to talk to the investment company to get everything sorted out.

Transfer on Death Registration for Vehicles

Even your car or truck can be set up with transfer-on-death registration. Just like with stocks and real estate, you pick who gets it after you’re gone, and they’ll automatically become the new owner without any need for a court to get involved.

Transfer-on-Death for Real Estate

In Ohio, you can use something called a transfer-on-death deed, also known as a transfer-on-death designation affidavit. This is a document you sign and record while you’re alive, but it only comes into play after you pass away. 

You have the freedom to change your mind or sell the property whenever you want. The person you choose to inherit the property doesn’t have any rights to it until after you’re gone. 

Living Trusts

A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets (property, investments, etc.) to a trustee who manages them according to your wishes.  Upon your death, the assets in the trust pass directly to your beneficiaries, bypassing probate altogether.  This offers several advantages, including:

  • Maintaining Control: As the grantor (creator) of the trust, you retain control over the assets during your lifetime and can modify the trust as needed.
  • Avoiding Incapacity: If you become incapacitated, the designated successor trustee can manage the assets in the trust for your benefit.
  • Privacy: Living trusts are typically private documents, unlike probate proceedings which are public record.

Are There Any Additional Tips to Avoid Probate in Ohio?

Probate court in Ohio can be a hassle. To avoid it, you need a plan for your belongings after you’re gone. A lawyer can help you set up a trust that holds everything you own. They can also help you decide who gets your life insurance and other things you possess.

Why Should I Consider an Estate Planning Attorney to Avoid Probate in Ohio?

We talked about ways to avoid probate court in Ohio, but things can get trickier if you have belongings from your home country.  Here’s why you might want to talk to a lawyer who knows about estate planning:

  • Overseas Belongings: If you own a house or have money invested back home, dealing with probate court can be a whole new headache. A lawyer can help you navigate the foreign laws and make sure your wishes are followed.
  • Taxes: Taxes can be confusing, especially if you have belongings in both the U.S. and your home country. Probate court might trigger taxes in both places. A lawyer can explain how this works and help you minimize the tax bite.
  • Planning What Happens: A lawyer can explain these options clearly and recommend the best way for you.

By talking to an estate planning lawyer who is compassionate in planning your belongings after you’re gone, you can make sure your loved ones inherit your belongings smoothly, with fewer problems. Don’t let probate court stop you from making sure your family gets what you want them to have.

Talk to Us and We’ll Guide You Through the Ways in Avoiding Probate in Ohio!

Are you wondering how to ensure your loved ones inherit your belongings smoothly?  Probate court can be a confusing and time-consuming process. Dealing with foreign laws, complex taxes, and unfamiliar probate procedures can create a nightmare for your family when you’re gone.

The Law Office of David Bale can help!  Our Westerville estate planning attorneys are dedicated to estate planning, and help you avoid probate issues, navigate international complexities, minimize tax burdens, and create a personalized plan tailored to your goals.

Don’t let probate court become a roadblock for your loved ones. Contact the Law Office of David Bale today and schedule a free consultation. We’ll help you secure your legacy and ensure a smooth transfer of your assets.

Aside from providing solution and legal services on estate planning, we also provide legal help on probate, trust litigation, and business law cases in Westerville, Ohio.

Reach Out Today To Set Up Your Case Evaluation.

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