First of all, take some time to deal with the immediate consequences of your loved one’s death. Make appropriate arrangements with the funeral home and also care for yourself. There is usually no need to rush to the lawyer’s office.
As soon as you are ready, bring the loved one’s Last Will and Testament and other important documents to the law firm. The lawyer will meet with you and should provide firm but gentle guidance throughout the process of handling the person’s financial affairs, a process called estate administration.
Names and address of the loved one’s next of kin, that is, near relatives and the beneficiaries named in the Last Will and Testament will be needed. In addition, some information about what the loved one owned and owed would be helpful to get started.
The next step is to have a responsible person appointed by the County Probate Court to carry out the terms of the Last Will and Testament. Often, the Last Will and Testament nominates someone. This trusted person, called a fiduciary (or an Executor or Executrix), is to carry out the wishes of the loved one. The lawyer will prepare the necessary documents to help the fiduciary fulfill these important duties.
Notice of the fiduciary’s role is provided to the near relatives and named beneficiaries. These people also receive a copy of the loved one’s Last Will and Testament.
Approximately three months after the estate is opened, the fiduciary files an Inventory of all of the loved one’s probate assets. This Inventory may include real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, investments, and tangible goods, among other things. In addition, many of the loved one’s assets may be classified as non-probate, that is, not controlled by the Last Will and Testament. These assets also need to be distributed to the designated beneficiaries.
Most creditors, that is, people to whom money is owed by the loved one, are required to make a claim for payment within six months of the loved one’s death. Creditors can include health care providers, a funeral home, Medicaid, and credit cards, among others. Ohio law ranks creditors according to their type to determine if and how they may be paid from the loved one’s property.
As the estate administration nears the end, typically after six months have passed, payments to creditors are made, as appropriate. Also, distribution of assets to the named beneficiaries in the Last Will and Testament and/or to the nearest family members are completed. The court costs and attorney fees are paid. The fiduciary is also entitled to appropriate payment for services.
The County Probate Court oversees the process to make sure that the estate is administered according to law and to the loved one’s wishes. The process is open to everyone involved. Information is regularly provided to those who are entitled to know.
Every case seems to have a “wrinkle” or two, so an experienced lawyer can make the difference between a difficult, frustrating experience and one that can go smoothly. A good attorney can also ease the burden of the loss of a loved one and help you through the process.
If you have recently lost a loved one in Ohio, call attorney Mark Tipton of Tipton Law Firm, LLC to discuss your situation. There is no fee to speak directly to the attorney about your situation. The telephone number is 419-636-0010. You will find that he will be there throughout the process with patience, guidance, knowledge, and advice to help you.
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