Simple Guide to Probating a Small Estate in Ohio
Introduction to "Relief from Administration"Statewide in Ohio's probate courts, a person may apply for a "relief from administration" in lieu of a sometimes costly and time consuming full administration of a decedent's estate where the estate of the deceased contains: (1) less than $100,000 (and surviving spouse entitled to all assets of the estate) or; (2) the estate contains less than $35,000 (surviving spouse not entitled to all assets or there is no surviving spouse). A common reason a person would apply for relief from administration is of course, when the estate contains less than the amounts listed above. However, sometimes a decedent has set up a trust before death and transferred most of their assets to the trust to "avoid probate." But an asset may not have been properly transferred to the trust before death and thus remains in the decedent's estate. Relief from administration may be the most cost and time effective way of administering those assets that did not become trust property.
What is the Result of a Relief from Administration?After you have completed all steps, the applicant will receive a court order that authorizes the applicant to sell personal property of the estate (if any), pay debts of the estate (if any), or gives notice to financial institutions holding accounts in the decedent's name to pay the assets to the applicant or some other person or entity.
How do I apply for a Relief from Administration?There are a lot of forms necessary to file a relief from administration. Luckily, the Supreme Court of Ohio has developed a massive collection of PDF form documents that you can use. You can find the forms at the web address linked below in this guide. As far as which forms you will need and what steps to take, the Hamilton County Probate Court has created a useful procedural guide to steer you through the relief from administration process. You can access it at the weblink provided below. In summary, you will need to follow the basic steps set forth in the Hamilton County probate court guide. But make sure you contact your local probate court to determine if there are any specific local rules that require different documents or procedures than that set forth in the Hamilton County Probate Court procedural guide.
Should I hire an attorney to help me?It is always a smart decision to hire an attorney to help you with any probate matters.
A good attorney will conduct an analysis of the decedent's complete legal situation and advise you on whether a relief from administration is the proper probate technique. There may be other estate concerns that an attorney may help you identify. For example, even if the deceased's estate is small enough to qualify for a relief from administration, you may still be required to file the Ohio Estate Tax (which, although it has been repealed, remains in effect until Dec 31, 2012 as of this writing).
Additionally, a relief from administration requires less time to complete than a full administration, so the fees charged to you by the attorney may be far less than you would anticipate.