LEGAL PRACTICE IN THE PROBATE COURT
Legal practice in the Probate Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. If an individual wishes to handle his or her own case, he or she may do so; however, they may not represent others. Due to the complexity of the law and the desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney. Deputy clerks are prevented by law from practicing law and, therefore, are not permitted to give advice.
When someone who is a resident or someone who owns real estate in Sandusky County passes away, assets must be transferred through proceedings in Probate Court; unless the assets transfer or pass automatically by contract to a party, such as joint and survivorship property. It is the Court’s responsibility to administer those assets fairly and distribute them amongst the decedent’s heirs, beneficiaries, and/or creditors according to the directions of the decedent and the laws of Ohio. This transfer of probate assets is known as Administration of Decedent’s Estate.
By statute, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive title to vehicles that were titled in their deceased spouse's name without involvement of the Probate Court. The vehicles must have a combined value of no more than $65,000.00. Vehicles include motorcycles and trucks, so long as they were used as a method of conveyance by the deceased spouse or the family prior to the deceased spouse's death. The Spouse and Automobile form must be completed and filed at the Sandusky County Title Office. For more information SEARCH HERE.
A motor vehicle title may also contain a transfer on death designation. The individual designated to receive title upon the death of the individual has no rights to the motor vehicle during the life of the original owner.
By statute, a surviving spouse is also entitled to the title of one watercraft and one outboard motor titled in the name of the deceased spouse without the involvement of Probate Court. The Spouse and Watercraft form must be completed and filed at the Sandusky County Title Office. For more information SEARCH HERE.
The Supreme Court of Ohio has developed Standard Probate Forms to assist in filing an ADMINISTRATION OF AN ESTATE. If you would like to use their forms SEARCH HERE.
In addition to the Standard Probate Forms located on the Supreme Court website, Sandusky County Probate Court has developed local forms to assist in filing an ADMINISTRATION OF AN ESTATE as follows:
WHAT IS A RELEASE FROM ADMINISTRATION?
Where the decedent’s creditors will not be prejudiced, and the Probate Estate consists of property less than $35,000.00, the Estate may be released from administration. An estate of $100,000.00 may be released from administration if all property passes to the surviving spouse of the decedent. A report of the distribution of assets is filed within sixty (60) days.
MAY FUNDS BE WITHDRAWN FROM BANK ACCOUNTS?
Accounts in the decedent’s name alone may only be removed by a Court Appointed Fiduciary.
WILL WITHDRAWING FUNDS FROM JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS PREVENT PROBATE COSTS OR ESTATE TAXES?
When appropriate, Ohio law requires proceeds from jointly held bank accounts to be included in the assets of the estate and/or subject to estate tax even if those proceeds have been withdrawn and are held in the name of the surviving party.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO WILL?
An Estate where there is no Will is generally administered in the same manner as if a Will had been probated. However, the decedent’s property is distributed according to the Ohio Descent and Distribution Law. To determine beneficiaries, the filing of a Civil action to determine heirship may be required.
WHAT IF THE WILL IS UNCLEAR?
If the Will is unclear, a civil action called a Will Construction must be filed in Probate Court.
WHAT IF THERE IS AN OBJECTION TO THE WILL?
Any interested party has the right to contest the validity of the Will by filing of a Will Contest in Probate Court. Any action to contest the validity of a Will must be filed no more than three (3) months after the filing of a Certificate of Service of Notice of Probate of Will for Estates, of decedents who passed away on or after January 1, 2002 and no more than four (4) months after the filing of the Certificate for Estates, of decedents who passed away before January 1, 2002.
MUST A WILL BE PROBATED?
The Last Will and Testament of a decedent must be presented to the Court within three (3) years of the decedent's death, unless there aren’t any assets that qualify to probate. If a Will is withheld intentionally, negligently, or without some reasonable cause, by any individual, such person may lose their right to inherit. An action may be filed in Probate Court at any time after the death of the decedent to require the production of the Will. Failure to produce a Will upon Court Order may result in the holder being cited for Contempt.
HOW IS A PROBLEM WITH AN ESTATE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE COURT?
Estate problems are brought to the Court’s attention by the filing of pleadings which are set for hearing with notice to all interested parties.
HOW ARE COURT COSTS DETERMINED?
Court costs are determined and established by statute in Ohio and the total cost for Administering an Estate Will vary depending on the type of actions and pleadings filed. SEARCH HERE for the current deposits required or contact Probate Court at 419-334-6211 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT PROPERTY MUST BE APPRAISED?
All property values which are not readily ascertainable, such as real estate, closely held corporation stock, and partnerships, must be appraised.