Probate Law

Dagger Law Probate Lawyers 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 wishes of the decedent (the person who has passed away) and is governed by the decedent’s legal documents, such as wills or estate plans, and the law. In the absence of any legal documents, the probate process follows the prescribed legal guidelines as set forth in Ohio state law. In simple terms, this is the process of verifying the legality of the deceased person’s wishes, and then making sure that those wishes are carried out. This process is overseen by probate courts across Ohio. 

Property that is subject to the probate process is that property that is 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:

  • Real estate which has a title only in the deceased person’s name
  • Personal property such as jewelry or household goods like furniture and appliances, and vehicles
  • Bank accounts that are solely in the deceased 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. Non-probate property includes:

  • 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 an 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 through the probate process, allowing 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
  • Distribution of all assets including money and property in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will; or, in the absence of a will, in accordance with Ohio State law.

Dagger Law’s probate lawyers also can help address and resolve disputes and other legal issues that relate to Wills, Trusts, and Guardianship matters. We have been serving our community in legal matters since 1902. That is over 115 years of experience resolving probate issues in Fairfield County, Ohio. 

Therefore, if you have legal issues pertaining to the probate process, including:

  • 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
  • Estate administration
  • Execution of a Guardianship plan
  • Obtaining a death certificate to start the probate process
  • Making sense of Ohio inheritance law
  • Inheritance or capital gains taxes
  • How to handle creditors of the estate and determining what creditors are owed by an estate
  • Questions about Payable on Death, or Transfer on Death, assets

It is in your best interest to retain an experienced probate attorney who is well versed with an estate plan and probate laws in your state.

Dagger Law can assist with all of your Ohio probate needs and questions, but out of state probate issues and administration of estate plans should be handled by an attorney who resides locally to the estate in question. Probate cases can take a long time to fully work out. Most probate cases take between nine to fifteen months to complete. This 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 particularly valuable pieces of jewelry or art
  • The need to file taxes on the estate. The estate and the decedent are two different entities and an estate will need its own tax ID and will be considered to earn income from liquidation of estate assets. An estate will also earn credits for income distributions as estate assets are distributed to beneficiaries. 
  • Estates that owe more money than they are worth

Additionally, creditors have six months to file a claim against the estate, so the best-case scenario is that an estate will be in probate at least that long. Because long probate processes and legal expenses to probate the estate go hand-in-hand, you can see the importance of clear estate planning documents which can make the entire process run more efficiently and ensure more of the assets end up with the decedent’s friends and family. 

Contact us today to schedule a consultation, or to discuss a probate matter. Whether you are located in Central Ohio, Southeastern Ohio, Fairfield County, Hocking County, Licking County, Pickaway County, Franklin County, Lancaster, Baltimore, Circleville, Buckeye Lake, Newark, Logan, Canal Winchester, the Greater Columbus Ohio area or other locations nearby; we have you covered. Check out the nearest location to you by clicking Our Locations Page

Will an attorney travel to me, or do I need to come to your offices in either Lancaster or Canal Winchester? 

While some meetings with your probate attorney will need to be held in our law offices, we do try to minimize your travel time by offering two convenient office locations for those seeking help with the probate process in Lancaster, Ohio, and Canal Winchester, Ohio. It is our goal to minimize the disruption to your life caused by legal issues associated with your probate matter. Many communications or meetings with your probate attorney can be conducted through emails or phone calls to allow us to provide efficient service. In certain circumstances, we realize that it isn’t possible for clients to physically come to our offices, and visits to your location may be required. If a Dagger Law probate attorney is retained to represent you, they will travel to all of the necessary court hearings and legal procedures in order to represent your interests anywhere in the state of Ohio. Please note that in some instances the cost to represent your probate case may require an unusual amount of money due to travel expenses. In such cases, Dagger Law may decline to accept a probate case or may recommend using legal representation closer to the location of your probate matter. Probate laws vary by state, and can even vary by county, so it is important to use an attorney familiar with local rules and regulations set by probate courts. We are happy to provide referrals to other legal professionals who are in a better position to represent a client if we are able. 

Don’t see your particular issue listed above? That is no problem! We enjoy a challenge and are happy to assist you with the legal issue that you are facing. Use our convenient Contact Page to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal matter with an attorney. 

Contact one of these Dagger Law probate attorneys for assistance.