When a spouse dies, the surviving individual is not automatically liable for his or her remaining debts. Generally, an Ohio resident is only liable for a spouse's debt if it was jointly held or if there was some sort of guarantee made on the balance. However, a surviving spouse may be indirectly liable for a debt because creditors could seize any assets that were supposed to transfer to that person. The living spouse would then receive a portion of that inheritance or nothing at all depending on what was owed.
Some people who have been named as executors of an estate in Ohio might wonder what will be involved in the process. The first step for an executor is to get copies of the death certificate. This will be necessary to notify various agencies, organizations and businesses such as the Social Security administration, life insurance companies, banks and more of the person's death. It is also necessary to locate the will or the trust although the executor or the attorney who prepared them might already know where they are.
Ohio residents may be aware that the unused portion of a deceased individual's federal estate tax exemption can be used by their surviving spouse, but they may not be aware that the strict paperwork required to obtain an extension for what is known as a portability election has led to the Internal Revenue Service being inundated with requests from executors. This soon developed into a major problem for the cash-strapped federal agency, and it announced in June that it would be addressing the issue by temporarily softening the rules dealing with portability election extensions.
Ohio residents who have been named the executor of a loved one's will might wonder what their responsibilities are. Usually, the first thing that must be done in such a situation is identifying and securing assets. They should obtain several copies of the death certificate since this will be necessary in some cases. Other types of assets may involve filing a claim or other actions.
The probate process is something most Ohio residents would rather avoid. It is a lengthy legal procedure that ensures assets are disbursed according to a deceased person's wishes. Probate often involves high legal fees that can be avoided in part or in full by keeping the assets out of probate. The good news is trusts can be created to keep almost any kind of asset from falling victim to probate losses.
An Ohio resident who has been named the executor under a person's will has an important job. The executor is responsible for inventorying the contents of the estate and then distributing the assets to beneficiaries as provided for in the will. Any financial or tax-related decisions that the executor makes must be made with all of the beneficiaries in mind.
Ohio assets could be subject to probate in the event of their owner's death if certain steps have not been taken to avoid this situation. For example, an intestate estate would be handled through probate to ensure that distribution of assets reflects the laws related to inheritance in the state. Even when an individual leaves a will, a document that has not been handled legally could be subject to changes in the distribution of one's belongings. However, people who are concerned about their wishes being carried out can take several steps to minimize the potential for probate activity.
Ohio residents may be asked by their friends or loved ones to serve as the executor under their wills, but they may not fully understand what they are being asked to do. Settling an estate may take as long as two years, and executors must be organized and have a good head for finance. It is not necessary to be a financial or legal expert as professionals can be hired to offer guidance, but executors are expected to make sound decisions and communicate effectively with the named beneficiaries in the will.
Ohio residents who have prepared their wills know that they have appointed an executor to handle the affairs of their estates after they die. While the executor ideally manages the estate in a timely manner, there are often times when an estate beneficiary may wish to make a change. If an executor is not performing his or her duties competently, there are several options available to beneficiaries. The first step may be to draft a formal letter of demand that makes a request of the executor to timely and economically administer the estate.
Probate in Ohio is the process by which a will is recognized and a personal representative or executor is appointed to pay debts, distribute assets and otherwise administer the decedent's estate. Many states have laws allowing for simplified probate procedures, which can make the process less expensive and more efficient, depending on the facts of the case.