Avoiding probate is typically the number one goal of people who go through the estate planning process. Probate is an expensive, time consuming, and public process that concerns solely-owned assets held by a decedent at the time of their death. There are strategies to avoid probate proceedings as much as possible, but each state has its own unique laws and regulations concerning probate and ways to avoid the process. Here are some of the issues to keep in mind when seeking to avoid probate in Ohio.
Transfer-on-Death and Payable-on-Death Designations
Ohio allows for Transfer-on-Death (TOD) designations on a number of assets and property. These include stocks and bonds, real estate property, and even automobiles. Additionally, Payable-on-Death (POD) designations can be made on bank accounts. A beneficiary must be named on TOD and POD designations, and they will receive the property after your death without those assets having to pass through probate. An Ohio estate and elder law attorney can advise you on the best way to implement TOD and POD designations in your estate plan, and can answer any questions you may have about the beneficiary designations.
A revocable living trust is the most common estate planning document that will help avoid probate proceedings. A trust is made by a Grantor and controlled by a Trustee – and, in most cases, the Grantor and the Trustee are the same person. Assets transferred into the trust by the Grantor are considered trust property and are under the control of the Trustee, and, in the eyes of the probate court, they no longer count as probate assets. An Ohio estate and elder law attorney can tell you whether a revocable living trust is a good fit for your situation.
Since only solely-owned assets have to pass through probate, jointly-owned assets can pass right to the joint owner. Joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety concern real property deeds, and those deeds must be written in a certain way to ensure that the property correctly passes to the joint owner upon death. Other forms of joint ownership concern financial accounts and automobiles. However, there can be unintended consequences to joint ownership. Consequently, before you change ownership on any of those assets, you should consult with an elder law attorney.
For more information about probate proceedings in Oho and how we can help determine the best strategy for avoiding probate, please contact our Ohio estate and elder law offices to schedule an appointment at 877-653-3450.