Facts about probate and probate litigation

If you live in Ohio and have recently lost a loved one or are preparing an estate plan, you might wonder what happens in the probate process. You may also wonder what happens in probate if there is a dispute about the will.

The probate process

Probate is a legal process that recognizes a will’s validity and ensures that someone is appointed who can manage the estate. Usually, an executor is named in the will. If there is no will, a court appoints someone to administer the estate, and state law determines how property should be divided. Once the executor or estate administrator has gathered the assets, it is necessary to pay debts and then distribute the remaining assets. The process generally takes from a few months to around a year, but it can go on much longer if there are issues.

Probate and property

Not every piece of property will necessarily go through probate. Property that is in a trust or that is passed by other means, such as through a beneficiary designation or transfer-on-death, does not.

Issues with probate

Probate litigation becomes more complicated if a family member challenges the will for some reason. This could include the belief that their loved one was unduly influenced or prepared the will without sufficient comprehension of what they were doing. In some cases, there could be a dispute about a person’s intentions because the legal language in the will is unclear or incorrect. There could also be issues about an executor’s adherence to its fiduciary responsibilities.

While the process of probate is usually a smooth one, there may be times when it is necessary to raise issues to protect a loved one’s wishes. However, only certain individuals, such as close family members and those mentioned in the will or in a prior one, are permitted to contest the document.