When a loved one passes away, there are many next steps. It can seem overwhelming to organize a funeral, burial, and wake, and that is merely the start. You must go through the legal process of accounting for your relative’s estate, paying their final debts and taxes, and distributing their remaining property. This is known as the probate process. As the executor administrator of your loved one’s estate, or as an interested family member, you are not required to have legal representation. However, we recommend working with an experienced attorney to ensure an efficient process.

Our probate lawyers at Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA are highly experienced in administering probate for estates of all sizes and complexities, including those that require trust administration. If you have questions what about to do after a relative passes away, or you wish to talk with a lawyer about the future, contact us through our online form or call (614) 602-6550.

The Ohio Probate Court Process

After a close relative passes away, you may be responsible for handling their estate. You are left in charge of dealing with what they left behind, including their home, car, personal effects, bank accounts, retirement savings, and investments. The first thing you should do is contact our probate law attorneys to guide you in beginning the process and seeing it through.

Filing an Application for Probate

To begin with, we will determine whether your loved one passed away with or without a will. If there is a will, then this must be submitted to the probate court. If there was not a will, then your loved one’s probate assets will be distributed by Ohio’s intestate laws. These simply define who is a legal heir and the percentage of the estate they receive.

Next, we identify the court with jurisdiction over your relative’s estate. This is usually the county where your loved one lived. Next, we will file the Application for Probate. We know how to fill out these forms and all of the court’s filing requirements, including supplying multiple certified copies of the Death Certificate.

Notifying Heirs

The next step of the probate process is notifying your relatives heirs and beneficiaries of the process. Our probate lawyers know the rules regarding how heirs must be lawfully served. Or, we can work with your relatives to obtain Waivers of Notice, which means they agree not to be formally served the court documents. We will submit proof to the court that the heirs were properly served or signed waivers.

Proving the Will

The probate court must verify the will is valid. At this stage, a family member or other interested party may contest the will and claim it is not valid. They may claim there is a more recent will, that the individual was not mentally fit at the time of signing the will, or that the decedent was subject to undue influence by someone else.

Receiving Letters of Authority

The probate court will issue Letters of Authority to the individual named as executor in the will. If no one is named or the individual does not accept, then the court will appoint someone else as the administrator of the estate.

Letters of authority give you the right to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate, including taking care of your loved one’s property, receiving and making payments, handling the estate taxes, and more. You will need proof of your authority to deal with places like the post office, banks, lenders, and investment companies.

Identifying Probate Assets

You must identify the assets that are subject to probate versus assets exempt from probate. Assets that are solely in the decedent’s name go through probate before they can be distributed to someone else.

Non-probate assets are not controlled by the court process and go directly to the designated beneficiary. These generally include but are not limited to:

One of the benefits of working with our probate lawyers is efficiently identifying probate versus non-probate assets and handling each appropriately.

 

Completing the Settlement and Administration of the Estate

To end the probate process, you must fully administer and settle the estate, which requires you to

Once all of these tasks are completed, you can ask the court to terminate the probate proceeding and discharge you from your responsibilities as the executor.

We Offer Trust Administration Services

If your loved one passed away leaving behind a trust, or their will called for the creation of a trust, we recommend you contact our trust administration attorneys right away.

There are several steps that go along with administrating a trust in Ohio. Assets that were placed in a trust during your loved one’s life and are meant to be passed down to relatives and friends are not automatically transferred. You still need to take steps to ensure the proper transfers of ownership take place, and we can help you do that.

Your relative may have intended for the trust to continue after their death and produce income for certain beneficiaries. There must be someone in charge of the trust. The trustee ensures it is maintained or invested wisely and that your loved one’s wishes are upheld.

Our attorneys are highly experienced in administering trusts. We routinely represent trustees in making wise investment decisions, protecting the trust, distributing income when appropriate, and supplying appropriate reports and statements to beneficiaries.

If your loved one’s will called for the creation of a trust upon their death, we can help you form the trust, including opening a bank account and obtaining a tax identification number.

We Handle Probate for Small Estates

In Ohio, estates valued at less than $35,000 are entitled to go through a streamlines process, also called small estate probate. This an unsupervised probate process.

You also can benefit from this process if your loved one’s estate is valued at $100,000 or less and the entire estate is left to their surviving spouse. To determine whether or not your loved one’s estate qualified for the small estate probate process, call our probate lawyers today.

When you qualify, we will discuss obtaining a Release From Administration. We will help you fill out the application, including reporting all of the assets of the estate. After filing application, we will ensure all interested parties are notified of your application. Then, you and your lawyer will attend a probate court hearing during which a judge can approve or deny your application for release.

We Handle Guardianship Administration and Litigation

Another purpose of the probate court in Ohio is to deal with guardianship matters. A guardian is a person who is appointed to make decisions for a minor or incompetent adult, known as a ward. In many cases, guardianship is for someone who has disability and is unable to make decisions about their own care and finances.

We can represent you if you believe it is necessary to file a petition in the probate court to become another person’s guardian. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a relatively smooth or contentious process. If it is clear that the other person is disabled and incompetent, and no other family members contest your appointment, then the judge may grant you guardianship.

Even if you do not expect any problems, guardianship is still a specific process that requires completing certain forms, serving certain parties with notice, and providing proof of the individual’s incompetency. You will benefit from working with our probate law attorneys throughout this process.

If you are appointed as someone else’s guardian, we can represent you in guardianship administration matters, including keeping records of your decisions and properly caring for the ward’s finances.

We also represent individuals who wish to contest a proposed guardianship. If you believe a person is seeking guardianship over a loved one who is not incompetent, or you believe that person is not an appropriate guardian for a relative, call us right away.

Meet the team with a different approach

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G. Gregory Arenstein

Shareholder

Greg started Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA with Nicholas I. Andersen in March 2010. Greg has many years of legal and tax experience working with clients on a wide array of business, estate planning, and tax issues. Greg is an experienced problem solver with the ability to assist clients with their most complex needs and the ability to communicate with his clients in plain English. Practice areas include: Estate Planning, Business Law, Taxation, Real Estate, Probate and Trust Administration, Legal Services for Healthcare Professionals

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Nicholas I. Andersen

Shareholder

Nick started Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA with G. Gregory Arenstein in March 2010. Nick has extensive experience in civil litigation, business, estate planning, real estate, oil & gas, including pipelines, and representing taxpayers in collection actions. Nick’s practice also includes an expansive and diverse clientele of healthcare professionals, including physicians, dentists, and veterinarians. He believes in being available to his clients whenever they are in need. Practice areas include: Legal Services for Healthcare Professionals, Civil Litigation, Business Law, Real Estate, Estate Planning, Oil and Gas Law, Taxation

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Eric R. McLoughlin

Shareholder

Eric has many years of experience representing clients in probate and trust administration, business, and estate planning matters. He has a strong passion for helping people with their legal matters, and strives to provide all his clients with the personalized service they deserve. Practice areas include: Probate and Trust Administration, Business Law, Estate Planning

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Jessica L. Sohner (née Samuel)

Shareholder

Jessica has years of experience representing clients in family and domestic matters, including divorce, dissolution, and post-decree matters. She believes in providing quality representation for clients while maintaining sensitivity to their individualized needs during stressful litigation. Practice areas include: Family Law, Civil Litigation, Oil and Gas Law

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Erin L. Sanford

Shareholder

Erin joined Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA as a Shareholder in February 2022. Erin has over 12 years of experience working in all areas of family law. Erin understands that when you are navigating through the court system, whether it is a divorce, child custody matter, the need for a guardian of a loved one, or the loss of a loved one it is a stressful time and she is there to be by her clients’ side.

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Ryan L. DeYoung

Senior Associate

Ryan is a Senior Associate at Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA. Ryan joined the firm in August 2020. Ryan’s practice is devoted to assisting clients in civil litigation matters. Prior to joining Arenstein & Andersen, his practice focused on the representation of individuals and small business debtors as an attorney with a small bankruptcy law firm for almost 7 years. In addition to his practice of bankruptcy law, Ryan also has prior experience in the litigation of housing and employment related claims, including claims brought under the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Civil Rights Act, as well as been an adjunct lecturer in The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. 

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James W. Park

Associate

Jim and Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA formed an “of counsel” relationship in 2015 to assist the firm’s clients in the areas of bankruptcy and creditor protection. Jim has been working in personal bankruptcy since 2005. He began practicing as an attorney solely in the area of personal bankruptcy in 2007, with a focus mainly in Chapters 7 and 13 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Jim understands that financial distress is common today and strives to provide clients with the respect and understanding they deserve while helping them through their difficult times. In December of 2021, Jim became a full-time associate attorney at the firm.

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Robert E. Putman

Associate

Robert joined Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA as a full-time associate attorney in October 2021. He is eager to provide clients with legal assistance in the areas of estate planning, business law, and general civil matters. He believes every client matter is unique and deserves careful professional attention to ensure the client’s interests are protected. 

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Erin M. Haughey

Associate

Erin joined Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA as a full-time associate attorney in October 2021 and earned her J.D. from Capital University Law School. Erin focuses her practice on estate and trust administration and understands the difficulty of losing a loved one. Erin works diligently to ensure that her clients are given the care and attention they deserve so she can best help them understand and achieve their desired goals.

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Joseph A. Downing

Of Counsel

Joe has extensive experience representing clients in estate planning, probate, business, real estate, elder law, and Medicaid planning. Joe prides himself on his ability to build long-term, trusting relationships with clients, and enjoys assisting them with their short and long-term legal needs. Joe and his law firm, Joseph A. Downing Co., L.P.A., are of counsel with our firm. Practice areas include: Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration, Business Law, Real Estate

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Christen M. Shore

Of Counsel

As a former adjunct professor at Capital University Law School, Christen has been practicing intellectual property law for over 20 years. She has represented multi-national corporations, universities, small business, and individuals in the protection of their intellectual property – including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Christen and her law firm, Christen M. Shore Co., L.P.A., are of counsel with our firm. Practice area include: Intellectual Property

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Ian A. Heyman

Of Counsel

Ian Heyman has over 23 years of legal experience counseling clients on all aspects of business matters, including acquisitions and transfers, corporate governance and structures, taxation including state and federal tax audits, commercial and residential real estate, wealth management, professional and business licensing, internal and government investigations, government relations, risk management, strategic structuring and commercial finance. Mr. Heyman represents businesses and individuals across many industries by creating innovative solutions, while always planning two steps ahead.

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Kathleen A. Hanley

Retired

Kathi is retired and living in Tucson, Arizona. She serves as a valuable advisor to the firm, and assists with continuity of service to her longtime clients that continue to entrust their legal needs to us.

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Questions About Guardianship, Trusts, or the Probate Process?

Our highly experienced probate lawyers at Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA are here to help you with any legal matters pertaining to the probate court, whether you need help administering your loved one’s estate, have been named a trustee, or are in the midst of a guardianship dispute. We are well-versed in Ohio law as well as the probate court processes for Franklin, Delaware, and Union counties.

To schedule an appointment, call us at (614) 602-6550 or use our online contact form.