Those who live or own property in Ohio may be required to go through the probate process. This is when an executor presents a will to a probate judge to be validated. Once a will is validated, assets can be distributed according to its provisions, and the executor may take other steps such as paying income or estate taxes. If an individual dies without a will, a probate judge will appoint an executor on that individual’s behalf.

While probate isn’t always complex or expensive, there may be good reason to avoid it if possible. For example, it could take many years for a will to be confirmed and an estate to be settled. In addition, the proceedings are made available to the public, which means that anyone can see the details of an estate or how it was settled. There are several steps that a person can take to avoid or minimize the need for probate.

These steps may include giving away assets while still alive or holding them outside of the estate. This could be done by creating a living trust or making use of beneficiary designations. If an item is held jointly, it typically passes directly to another party upon an individual’s death. In some cases, small estates can be settled without the need for a formal probate process.

An attorney may be able to help a person structure an estate so that assets can be transferred without the need for probate. This may be done by putting assets in a revocable living trust or a pour-over will as opposed to distributing them through a traditional will. Homes, cars and other property may be titled in a manner that gives another person the right to own them outright when the current owner passes.