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How to properly settle an estate

There are several steps that Ohio residents must take if they are to administer an estate or trust. To properly administer the estate, they must determine if the estate needs to go through the probate process. If so, they may need to wait until the court appoints them as the personal representative of the estate.

Those who are asked to administer a trust may need to sign a Consent to Act as well as a Certificate of Trust. This is true if the individual was not an acting trustee of that trust while the settlor was still alive. It may be a good idea to order 10 copies of a death certificate as quickly as possible as bulk orders may be easier than ordering them at a later date.

It is important to remember that an estate or trust administrator may not make gifts on behalf of the deceased unless specifically called for. It is also important to avoid paying the estate's bills with personal funds. A separate bank account should be opened and a taxpayer identification number obtained for the estate. It may also be a good idea to work with an attorney and a tax professional to ensure that the process of settling the estate is done correctly.

Engaging in estate planning may make it easier for an individual to control where assets go and generally have his or her final wishes carried out. Language in will or trust may determine who gets access to a particular asset or how it is to be used. A trust may also be useful from a tax perspective, and it may also help to avoid probate, which may take months or years to settle if there is a legal challenge.

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