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Probate Court Terminology Explained

With very few exceptions, any asset with title held in the name of the decedent and where no contractual beneficiary is designated necessitates the involvement of Probate Court.  


Probate Court, among other duties, facilitates the transfer of a decedent's assets to the decedent's beneficiaries.  


In Ohio, Probate Court will usually require an Attorney to act as a liaison between the Probate Court and the party designated as the Fiduciary (Executor, Executrix, or Administrator).  


Although Probate Court has it's place and can provide measures of accountability, many Ohio residents will want to consider options to avoid or minimize Probate Court due to the costs associated with Probate Court (Attorney Fees, Court Costs, Administrative Costs).  

There are many ways to eliminate the need for Probate Court for an individual's transfer of assets.  


Some of the more common are as follows:

  • An intervivos gift is a transfer of an asset to a beneficiary prior to the Grantor's (the individual making the gift) death.  A Grantor considering this option will want to contemplate any tax consequences and legal risks associated with an intervivos gift.

  • Many institutions will allow an Grantor to designate a beneficiary by virtue of a Transfer on Death, Payable on Death, or similar variation to contractually transfer the asset to the beneficiary upon death of the Grantor.

  • The utilization of a Trust can allow a Grantor to designate beneficiaries while allowing the Grantor to contemplate various contingencies (providing for an unexpected death of a beneficiary, controlling the ages of distribution of the asset to the beneficiary, and/or adding protective measures for beneficiaries who are minors at the time of the Grantor's death).


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