Will My Estate Have to be Probated?

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By Roy Whited

While I have heard some very detailed definitions for the term “estate”, I especially like the one used by Certified Elder Law Attorney Thom L. Cooper during his educational seminar for seniors: He says, “It is all your stuff; all of the things that you own at your date of death; put it in a box and it makes up your estate.”

However, while you may only have one ‘box of stuff’ or estate, your estate may be made up of many different types of estates. For example you can have a probate estate, a non-probate estate, a trust estate, a taxable estate, and a non-taxable estate. In this writing we will be talking about your probate estate.

Generally, a probate estate is made up of any asset owned by an individual at their death that is subject to probate administration. The probate administration process is designed to provide proof to the probate court that the individual’s Will is genuine.

Types of assets found in a probate estate:
All assets that are owned in the individual’s name alone
All assets that are owned by the individual as a “tenant in common”
All assets that are payable to the estate of a beneficiary
All assets owed to the individual before death but are paid after the date of death
Other personal property items such as household goods, jewelry, etc.

Probating an estate can be costly and time consuming, causing delays in the distribution of assets to heirs. Call 1-800-798-5297 and schedule a free one-hour consultation with a Certified Elder Law Attorney at Cooper, Adel & Associates to learn how to avoid probate.

The Hidden Costs of Estate Administration

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By Mary Roberts

Most people have no idea that serving as an executor or administrator of an estate is very time-consuming and burdensome. There are some “obvious costs” such as attorney fees, court filing fees and commissions for the executor but there are also some not-so-obvious expenses associated with administering and closing an estate.

Here are some of the hidden costs:

  1. Time. Closing an estate takes time. The compensation for being an executor may not be worth the time it takes for appointments with the attorney, collecting the assets and preparing an inventory, signing of documents, preparing an accounting and tying up loose ends.

  2. Will contests. If all beneficiaries sign off on the accounting, the process may be fairly simple but if a beneficiary contests, then thousands of dollars and many hours of work may be spent with the months dragging by while fighting the Will contest.

  3. Minors. If a beneficiary is a minor or considered incompetent, closing the estate can be more complicated.

  4. Overseas beneficiaries. If a beneficiary lives in another country, extra money and time may need to be spent on translations or notarizing documents.

  5. Property in other states. The executor may have to open an ancillary probate if the deceased has real estate in another state.

  6. Securing the property. Locks may need to be changed or a security system installed to protect the property.

  7. All estates are different. All estates have different assets, different beneficiaries and different sets of circumstances.

  8. Bond. It is necessary for a fiduciary (the person responsible for administering the estate) to post bond if there is no Will.

Fiduciary duties are extremely serious responsibilities that can be time-consuming and costly. At Cooper, Adel & Associates, we can assist you in reducing this burden for your loved ones when you pass. Please call us at 1-800-798-5297 for a FREE consultation.

What Are The First Steps To Take When A Loved One Dies?

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By Steve Wright

When a loved one passes away, it is an emotional time that you should spend with family and friends. Unfortunately, here are a few tasks that will require your attention soon after the death if you are the estate representative.

An important first step you must take as the estate representative is to locate any legal estate documents that the deceased may have had created, particularly any trusts and/or wills. These documents will play a fundamental role in disseminating the estate. Also, you will need at least one certified death certificate. It’s a good idea to have at least three. Most financial institutions will require documentation that you are the estate representative and a copy of the certified death certificate in order to release information to you.

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Does my spouse automatically inherit my car when I die?

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By: Jon Stevenson

The short answer in Ohio is yes. According to Ohio’s BMV website, bmv.ohio.gov, your spouse will be entitled to up to two vehicles in your name under the surviving spouse law. To transfer the vehicles, your spouse will have to make a trip to the Title Office and apply for a surviving spouse certificate of title. The BMV warns that some Title Offices will require a certified copy of the death certificate so it’s a good idea to call ahead for requirements.

While the above will apply to most Ohioans vehicles, there are some vehicles to which this law does not apply. The following is a list of qualification for a vehicle covered under the surviving spouse law:

  • The vehicle/vehicles cannot exceed $40,000 in value.
  • The vehicle/vehicles must be passenger vehicle, ¾ ton truck or smaller, or a motorcycle.
  • Commercial vehicles do not qualify
  • Motor Homes do not qualify
  • Recreational vehicles do not qualify

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