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Probate Court, in Ohio, is a division of the Court of Common Pleas and has jurisdiction over the administration of wills and estates as well as guardianships, marriages, adoptions, name changes, and correction of birth records.

Overview of the process

What is probate property?

Not all property belonging to the decedent is subject to distribution by the probate court. Any property which is to pass by contract to another party, the beneficiary, upon your death is not included as part of your probate estate. Examples are insurance policies and retirement accounts payable to a named beneficiary (not the estate) and property in Joint and Survivorship form, Payable on Death (POD) form or Transfer on Death (TOD) form.

There are various reasons why persons, when planning for their estates, wish to avoid having probate property. The primary concerns with probate property is that it will be listed as part of the estate proceedings, becoming a matter of public record and subjecting your finances to inspection by any member of the public interested in viewing it. Additionally, fees charged on an estate are often calculated with a higher percentage charged on probated property. As such, reducing the amount of property you own subject to probate, you may be able to simplify the administration of your estate, increase the privacy of you financial affairs, and decrease the expense of administration. Making your property "non-probate" property does not necessarily make it immune from estate tax. Typically, anything which you own or have control over at the time of your death, will be included in your taxable estate. It is also important to note that non-probate property does not pass according to the will nor affect any distribution made in a will. Therefore, when updating your estate plan, it is important to not only review your will, but also any documents controlling other non-probate property which you may own.

You should always contact an attorney when considering how to title your property as there may be considerations of gift and estate tax and also Medicaid eligibility depending on the time and nature of transfers.