After someone passes away, their belongings, financial accounts, business holdings, and real property must be distributed through a legal process. The probate process is the legal process that guides the distribution of a person’s estate with or without a last will and testament by the deceased person.
Understanding and working through the probate process following the death of a loved one is difficult. Guidance from an experienced southern Ohio probate and estate administration attorney like Xavier W. Staggs at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC can lighten the burden, avoid unnecessary delays, and help you move forward.
The Southern Ohio Probate Process
Title 21 of Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules outlines the formal processes of Ohio probate. There are many components to the probate and estate administration process. Finding and following the applicable procedures can be complicated, because the procedure can vary depending on whether or not there is a will or other estate planning documents in place by the decedent.
Executors of Southern Ohio Probate Cases
One of the first things that will be accomplished by an Ohio probate court is to identify or appoint an executor of the estate. An executor of a southern Ohio estate administration is the person who will be responsible for providing and maintaining an inventory of all the estate assets during the probate process.
If the decedent left a valid will, that will most likely has identified someone to act as the executor (or personal representative) of the decedent’s estate. If there is no will in place, if the decedent’s will is determined to be invalid, or if the executor named in the will is unable to perform the duties as executor of the estate, a capable executor must be identified.
Applying to be Named the Executor in a Southern Ohio Probate Case
If there is no will or estate plan in place, any potential heir of the estate can file an application for appointment as executor or administrator of the estate. The court is most likely to give the opportunity to serve as the executor of the estate to those deemed the most natural heirs, such as the deceased’s spouse or children.
Regardless of whether there is a will that named an executor or the court appointed one independently, others may formally contest the named executor. In other words, if you disagree with whoever was identified as an executor, or if you have found that the executor has been dishonest in their presentation of the estate inventory or assets, you can bring this to the attention of the probate court. In such cases, you may ask that the court name a new executor.
The Executor’s Job: Inventory, Valuation, and Distribution of Estate Assets
The main role of the estate executor or administrator is to provide the probate court with an inventory and valuation of the assets of the deceased. Following are some examples of assets included in the estate:
- Financial accounts;
- Valuable property such as jewelry, vehicles, or art;
- Real estate;
- Vehicles; and
- Business holdings.
Obtaining and reporting the valuation of most of these items is relatively easy. Financial accounts have clear balances. Real estate and other property can easily be appraised for their value.
The value of a business can be more difficult to determine. There are several ways to approach the valuation of a business, so you may want to consider working with a business and commercial lawyer to help with this process.
Once the court has accepted any necessary valuations of estate property, the executor must distribute the property according to the terms of the will or, where there is no valid will, according to Ohio’s intestate law.
Finding the Right Scioto, Gallia, Adams, or Lawrence County, Ohio Probate Attorney
If you don’t want to hire separate attorneys to help you find the valuation of the property and business holdings and assist you with the Ohio probate and estate administration process, you may want to consider consulting with Xavier W. Staggs at Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC.
Xavier is a WV and Ohio probate attorney with experience in inventory and business valuation. You’re in good hands working an attorney who can help with both the southern Ohio probate process generally and specific valuation questions. Schedule a consultation by calling (304) 523-2100 or complete this online contact form.