Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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How to Probate A Will In Ohio

By:  Daniel McGowan, Esq.

To probate a will in Ohio, take the following steps:

Step 1: Find and File the Decedent’s Will

The first step to take to probate a will in Ohio is to find the original will. Once you have found the will, you file the will in the county were the decedent lived.  You can also search the online court records to see if a will has already been filed in the event that you cannot find the will.

Step 2: Order Decedent’s Death Certificate

Order the Decedent’s death certificate.  The Ohio probate court will not open an estate if they do not have proof that the decedent died.  Therefore, order the decedent’s death certificate.  You can do this by contacting the Ohio Department of Health, Vital Statistics.

Step 3: Petition for Probate

This step is generally where an attorney should get involved.  A petition for probate must be filed.  In the petition you seek to have the will admitted to probate, and to have an executor of the estate appointed.  Generally, the petition will have to include the decedent’s name, date of birth and death, residence, and the names and addresses of the beneficiaries.

Step 4: The Probate Is Opened and Letters of Authority Are Issued

After the necessary opening documents have been filed, the Court will generally, after hearing, issue “Letters of Authority” to the executor.  Letters of Authority make it possible for the executor to administer the estate.  The executor needs to marshall all of the decedent’s assets, and the Letters of Authority will grant the executor the necessary access to do so.

Step 5:  Administration, Creditors, and Inventory of the Estate

The executor will administer the estate by marshalling assets, identifying the beneficiaries, providing notice to creditors, dealing with creditor claims, and preparing an inventory of the estate assets.  Creditors have six months to make a claim under Ohio probate law.  The executor has three months from appointment to prepare and file an inventory of the estate’s assets.

Step 6: Petition to Close Probate and Distribute the Estate

After all of the creditors have been dealt with, the executor must petition to close the estate.  Often, the executor will seek and receive waivers from the beneficiaries of the estate so that the closeout process can be streamlined and move as swiftly as possible.  Upon approval, the estate can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Do All Wills Have To Go Through Probate In Ohio?

No, not all wills have to go through probate in Ohio.

No Probate Assets

One reasons is because sometimes there are no assets that are a part of the probate estate.  See our Assets of the Deceased chart to learn what assets are and are not generally probate assets.  If a decedent had beneficiary designations on their bank accounts, or owned all of their assets jointly, then no probate might be necessary.

Summary Probate

Another reason is that some estates in Ohio do not require court supervision, and a formal probate is not necessary.  If the value of the estate is under $35,000 or the value of the probate estate is $100,000 or less and the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse than you can do a “summary probate” where you complete some forms and wait a certain amount of time before final distribution of the assets.

 How Much Does It Cost To Probate A Will In Ohio?

 The cost to probate a will in Ohio is generally a combination of filing fees, attorney’s fees, and executor’s fees.  Filing fees are usually around $100 to file for probate of a will in Ohio.

Attorneys fees and executor fees are usually the most expensive expense of the estate.  Attorney’s fees can be calculated based upon a percentage of the estate value, an hourly fee, or a flat fee.  Executor’s fees are set by Ohio statute and are:

  • 4% of the first $100,000 of probate assets
  • 3% of the next $300,000 of probate assets
  • 2% of the assets above $400,000
  • 1% fee (maybe) on non-probate assets

How Long Do You Have To Probate A Will In Ohio?

There is no deadline for when you have to probate a will in Ohio.  However, if you know of the existence of the will and you are a beneficiary, if you have the power to submit the will for probate you must do so within a year.  Section 2107.10 of the Ohio Revised Code prohibits the withholding of a will and states:

 (A) No property or right, testate or intestate, shall pass to a beneficiary named in a will who knows of the existence of the will for one year after the death of the testator and has the power to control it and, without reasonable cause, intentionally conceals or withholds it or neglects or refuses within that one year to cause it to be offered for or admitted to probate. The property devised or bequeathed to that beneficiary shall pass as if the beneficiary had predeceased the testator.


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