Dagger Law probate attorneys in Lancaster, Ohio provide legal advice regarding the legal process that transfers both assets and liabilities of a deceased individual over to the designated individuals as determined by law.
Probate is the legal process of fulfilling the decedent’s wishes. “Decedent” is a legal term that indicates a person who has passed away. Governing that legal process is the decedent’s legal documents, such as wills or estate plans, and the law. In fact, in the absence of any legal documents, the probate process follows the prescribed legal guidelines outlined in Ohio state law. Therefore, probate verifies the legality of the deceased person’s wishes. Probate courts, or lawful documents, then process and carry out those wishes. Probate courts across Ohio oversee this process.
Property that is subject to the probate process is any property owned by a person at the time of death and which does not pass to other parties by designation or ownership.
Common examples of assets subject to probate include:
- Any real estate which has a title only in the deceased person’s name
- Personal property such as jewelry or household goods like furniture, appliances, and vehicles
- Bank accounts that are solely in the dead person’s name
- Life insurance policies that list the deceased, or their estate, as the beneficiary
Non-probate property bypasses the courts (avoid probate) and goes directly to the named beneficiary. Examples of non-probate property include:
- Bank or brokerage accounts held jointly by the deceased and other parties
- Property held in trust, as detailed in trust plans created by an attorney
- Life insurance or brokerage accounts that list a party other than the deceased as a beneficiary of the plan
- Retirement accounts
Why do I need a probate attorney during probate if I already have a will?
Probate attorneys act as a guide to the executor, personal representative, or administrator of an estate. They work hand-in-hand with the executor through the probate process. Securing a probate lawyer near you will help the estate to accomplish the following necessary steps:
- Administration of the estate in an orderly manner, which includes identifying and inventorying property
- Gaining access to the assets of the estate such as insurance policies, bank accounts, or other financial accounts held by the deceased
- Identifying and appraising estate assets
- Filing and paying estate taxes as required by Ohio state tax law
- Protecting the estate assets while they are in probate
- Paying a deceased person’s debts and expenses from the estate assets
- Notifying beneficiaries named in the will
- Distributing assets, including money and property, under the terms of the decedent’s will, or, in the absence of a will, by Ohio State law
- Litigation of any probate disputes
Dagger Law’s probate lawyers can help address and resolve disputes and other legal issues related to wills, trusts, and guardianship matters.
We have been helping our community with probate matters since 1902. That is over 115 years of experience resolving probate issues in Fairfield County, Ohio.
Therefore, if you have legal issues with the probate process, our Lancaster, probate attorneys are here for you. Those issues may include:
- Advice for acting executors on how to fulfill the role as personal representative, or appointed executor, of the estate
- Contesting or disputing a will that is in the probate process
- Probate litigation
- Trust administration
- Trust litigation
- Estate administration
- Execution of a guardianship plan
- Obtaining a death certificate to start the probate process
- Making sense of Ohio inheritance law
- An inheritance or capital gains taxes
- How to handle creditors of the estate and determining what an estate owes creditors
- Questions about Payable on Death, or Transfer on Death, assets
It is in your best interest to retain an experienced probate attorney well-versed in estate planning and probate laws in your state.
Dagger Law probate lawyers in Lancaster, Ohio can assist with all your probate needs and questions. However, out-of-state probate issues and estate administration plans require an attorney who resides locally to the estate in question and is licensed to practice in the state in question. For instance, you would not want to hire an Ohio attorney for a probate matter in California. Certainly, probate attorneys in Ohio are familiar with state and local laws. However, laws differ from state to state. Familiarity with the law can save time and money by avoiding costly errors during probate.
Furthermore, local probate courts typically have their own rules and best practices. In fact, an Ohio probate attorney can practice anywhere in the state. However, understanding the local rules will provide further efficiency.
Patience is vital during the probate process.
Probate cases can take a long time to work out entirely. In general, most probate cases take between nine to fifteen months to complete. Frequently, lengthy probate times can happen due to several common reasons such as:
- Family disputes over estate assets or the estate administration, leading to probate litigation
- Family members who are hard to locate or who may be slow to respond
- Assets belonging to the estate which are hard to liquidate (sell for cash value), such as collector’s items or precious pieces of jewelry or art
- Estate tax filing needs. In effect, the estate and the decedent are two different entities. An estate will need a separate tax ID. Potentially, the estate earns income from the liquidation of estate assets. An estate will also earn credits for income distributions as beneficiaries receive estate assets.
- Estates that owe more money than they are worth
Additionally, creditors have six months to file a claim against the estate. The best-case scenario is that an estate will be in probate for at least that long. Remember, long probate processes and legal expenses to probate the estate go hand-in-hand. With this in mind, you can see the importance of precise estate planning documents. Clear documents make the entire process run more efficiently and ensure more of the estate’s assets end up with the decedent’s friends and family.
Dagger Law probate lawyers in Lancaster, Ohio also proudly serve the following communities throughout central and southeastern Ohio:
- Fairfield County
- Franklin County
- Hocking County
- Licking County
- Pickaway County
- Baltimore, Ohio
- Buckeye Lake, Ohio
- Canal Winchester, Ohio
- Circleville, Ohio
- Greater Columbus Ohio Area
- Lancaster, Ohio
- Logan, Ohio
- Newark, Ohio
- Other locations
Check out the nearest location to you by clicking on Our Locations Page.
Will a probate attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester?
Dagger Law has two office locations, with one in Lancaster, Ohio and one in Canal Winchester, Ohio. Our probate attorneys work to simplify everything for you and reduce any unnecessary travel, so we do our best to communicate mostly through phone calls or emails. In certain circumstances, it is possible that some meetings may need to take place at one of our offices, but we are able to visit your location as well if it is necessary.
When you choose a Dagger Law probate lawyer to represent you, we will travel to court hearings and legal procedures anywhere in the state of Ohio. Dependent upon location, the cost to represent your case could require large travel expenses, so in that event it is possible that we might refer you to a probate attorney closer to your location. Either way, we will make sure that you are in great hands.
If you’re not sure that your issue is listed above, we are happy to engage in a further conversation to assist you with any legal issue. Use our convenient Contact Page to schedule an appointment with one of our Lancaster, Ohio, probate lawyers to discuss your legal matter.
FAQ FAQs Answered by Our Lancaster Probate Attorneys:
Q: What is Probate?
A: Simply put, this is the legal process of officially proving a will in a Probate Court. It is a judicial process to evaluate what assets are in an estate, who the beneficiaries are, who is responsible for distributing the estate to the beneficiaries, and then legally transferring the estate assets to the beneficiaries. As you can probably infer from reading that list, asset distribution only happens after all the other questions are determined. If there are disagreements, the process could take some time to resolve those disagreements.
Q: How does a trust eliminate the probate period?
A: While a trust does eliminate the need to probate an estate, in most circumstances, it might be better to think of a Trust as simply changing when the probate process happens. Because a trust takes effect immediately upon execution, the work of making all those determinations about assets and beneficiaries occurs early on in the process. It may require revision and correction as circumstances change. Upon death, the executed trust remains in effect rather than starting to become effective. A trust typically speeds up the time it takes for beneficiaries to access the assets left to them.
Q: I wanted to retain your services, but your firm declined due to a conflict of interest. What does that mean?
A: In Ohio law, a probate attorney must provide effective counsel to a client. To be clear, “effective” doesn’t mean that the client gets a specific desired outcome. Rather it indicates that the legal representation was competent. If an attorney has represented an opposing party, there can be considered a conflict of interest.
Conflicts of interest create a severe risk that a probate lawyer’s action on behalf of one party may impact another party’s representation.
Potential conflicts are why an attorney cannot represent both spouses in a divorce. While there are some grey areas, most attorneys will wisely steer away from even a hint of engaging in a conflict of interest. After all, it is easier to avoid the conflict than to argue that there was no conflict.
Conflicts of interest come up during probate regularly when a recipient of assets from the estate wishes to ask legal questions. Often, this comes in the form of asking the attorney for an update on the probate process. Since the attorney represents the estate, they are usually only able to communicate with the executor throughout the probate process. Not hearing directly from the attorney can be frustrating. However, handling communications this way ensures that no conflicts of interest arise.
Q: Does hiring the best probate attorney near me require that I pay more?
A: Terms like “best attorney” are subjective. How would anyone judge that? Is there a contest for lawyers? To us, getting the best attorney is the one who can do the job effectively, efficiently, and advocate for you. Efficiency saves you both time and money and ultimately makes experienced attorneys an affordable option. Nobody wants to be stuck living through a legal matter for over six months, let alone years. While the client controls many legal process delays, your lawyer plays a role as well. Experience can allow an attorney to quickly move past the research and planning phase into taking action on your legal issue. Examples like this explain why a higher hourly rate may still be affordable.
Contact One of Our Dagger Law Probate Lawyers in Lancaster, Ohio for Assistance
If you’ve been searching for “probate lawyer near me” look no further because Dagger Law is ready to discuss your case. Click on the photos below to access an attorney’s contact information and bio.
You can also reach out through our contact page.