The probate courts in Ohio oversee the distribution of people’s property and the administration of their estate after they die. The oversight provided by the probate courts helps ensure that the personal representative of someone’s estate follows their instructions regarding their property. The courts also help ensure that estate administration complies with state law, including requirements to fulfill someone’s financial obligations.
Assets that pass through probate court could be at risk of creditor claims. They could also contribute to the full value of the estate and increase the possibility of estate taxes. How do testators planning an estate in Ohio arrange to keep specific assets out of probate court?
By changing ownership
The simplest way to keep an asset out of probate court is to change the owner of that asset. Only property belonging to the decedent must pass through probate court as part of their estate. Assets transferred to a trust or gifted to loved ones before someone dies are not subject to probate oversight in most cases.
Some people even make arrangements to transfer some of their assets immediately after their death to keep them out of probate court. Transfer-on-death designations allow financial resources like bank accounts and retirement savings to transfer to a specific beneficiary without first going through probate court. There are even ways to transfer real estate without it passing through probate court, such as taking title as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.
Identifying the most valuable assets that someone owns is an important first step toward arranging for them to transfer to others without first passing through probate court in Ohio.