When an Ohio resident dies, property given to someone prior to their death can be considered an advancement on that person’s inheritance under Ohio law. If property is considered an advancement on inheritance, then the property is treated as an advancement against the heir’s share of the estate, and deducted from their ultimate distribution.
When Is Property Treated As an Advancement On an Inheritance In Ohio?
There are two ways that a lifetime gift of property can be treated as an advancement on an inheritance under Ohio law.
Contemporaneous Writing By the Decedent
First, property that the decedent gave during the person’s lifetime to an heir is treated as an advancement against the heir’s share of the estate if declared in a contemporaneous writing by the decedent to be an advancement.
Therefore, at or very near the time that the decedent gave the property to the heir, the decedent must declare that the property is an advancement on that heir’s inheritance. A statement of intent prepared five years after the property was given to the heir will not be considered contemporaneous for purposes of the law.
Acknowledged In Writing By the Heir
The other way for an advancement on inheritance to be accomplished under Ohio law is for the recipient to acknowledge in writing that the property (or a portion thereof) was an advancement on inheritance. This acknowledgement does not have to be contemporaneous with the giving of the property.
When Is Advanced Property Valued?
For purposes of an advancement on inheritance under Ohio law, property is valued as of the time the heir came into possession or enjoyment of the property, or as of the time of death of the decedent, whichever occurs first.
For example, if Joe’s dad gave Joe a coin collection valued at $500 when the gift was made, that appreciated in value to $5,000 by the time Joe’s dad died, only $500 would be used to calculate the reduction in Joe’s inheritance.
Ohio Revised Code §2105.051
Ohio Revised Code §2105.051 governs advancements on inheritance and states:
When a person dies, property that the person gave during the person’s lifetime to an heir shall be treated as an advancement against the heir’s share of the estate only if declared in a contemporaneous writing by the decedent or acknowledged in writing by the heir to be an advancement. For this purpose, property advanced is valued as of the time the heir came into possession or enjoyment of the property, or as of the time of death of the decedent, whichever occurs first. If the heir does not survive the decedent, the property shall not be taken into account in computing the intestate share to be received by the heir’s issue, unless the declaration or acknowledgment provides otherwise.
Inheritance advancements do not arise in every estate, but can be complex and hotly contested when they do arise. An Ohio probate lawyer can assist you with the determination and valuation of any advancements on inheritance in an Ohio probate.