When you leave this world, you probably want to make the process of wrapping up your affairs as painless as possible for the loved ones you leave behind. Without the proper foresight, you could unintentionally leave a situation for your family that is much harder to deal with than it has to be. Here are a few common problems that sometimes arise during the probate process – and what you can do to prevent them in your own estate.
If you die without executing a will – or if you write a will that doesn’t follow Ohio’s rules surrounding valid will execution – then the court will have to apply Ohio’s intestacy statute. This is a law that governs how to distribute the belongings of someone without a valid estate plan.
Intestacy proceedings can be long and complex, and they might result in your belongings going to people that you wouldn’t want. By executing a valid will, you can make sure that your estate goes where you want it to, and spare your family the need for intestacy proceedings.
The executor of your estate is someone with the tremendous responsibility of managing the distribution of your assets, among other responsibilities. They’ll be in charge of tracking down all of your assets, paying all of your debts, distributing your belongings according to your will, and standing in for you in any lawsuits against your estate – such as will challenges.
It goes without saying that your executor must be someone with a high degree of responsibility and dependability. You can spare your family a lot of grief by making sure that you choose the right person to be your executor – and by naming one or two backups in case that person is unwilling or unable to do the job. If you fail to name an executor, the court will have to choose one for you – and they might choose someone that you definitely would not have chosen for yourself.
Your loved ones may decide to try to go through the probate process by themselves rather than hire an experienced probate attorney to help them. If they make a mistake filling out the complex forms, or miss a filing deadline, the court may reject their documentation and make them start the process over again.
The best way to get through probate as smoothly as possible is to hire an attorney from the beginning. Alternately, an attorney can help you to find ways to allow your estate to avoid the probate process altogether – such as through the use of various types of trusts.
No one wants to leave their family in a tough spot due to oversight once they’re gone. By carefully planning out your estate plan, you can give them the gift of peace of mind and a smooth probate process as they deal with your loss.