Probate Law on the Deceased's Debt in Ohio

By Tom Streissguth

When a legal resident of Ohio dies, Ohio state law governs the handling of the deceased's assets and liabilities. Executors (who are responsible for handling wills) and beneficiaries of the estate should be aware of the general legal guidelines on debts. The most important factors are the nature of the debt — secured or unsecured — and the solvency of the estate.

When a legal resident of Ohio dies, Ohio state law governs the handling of the deceased's assets and liabilities. Executors (who are responsible for handling wills) and beneficiaries of the estate should be aware of the general legal guidelines on debts. The most important factors are the nature of the debt — secured or unsecured — and the solvency of the estate.

Secured Debts

If secured debts are left unpaid by the deceased, a creditor will have a claim on property (such as a house, car or boat) to satisfy that debt. The creditor can seize the property if the estate administrator fails to pay the debt. Ohio law allows creditors to file claims against the estate; the judgment is enforced by the probate court, which may have other property within the estate seized for repayment. All creditors must file their claims in writing to the estate administrator within six months of the decedent's death. If a claim is rejected, the creditor has two months to contest this rejection. If a probate case is not opened within six months of death, the creditor can protect the claim with a demand letter or invoice delivered to the administrator, guardian, representative, or the decedent's last known address.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Co-Signors and Joint Accounts

If a beneficiary of the estate has co-signed any loans or other obligations, the beneficiary remains legally responsible for repayment if the debt is not satisfied out of the estate. In addition, beneficiaries who held joint credit card accounts, or other accounts with the decedent, remain responsible for the entire balance. Unsecured credit accounts may be covered by credit life insurance, which pays the outstanding balance in the event of the account holder's death. Even if the debt is unsecured, Ohio law allows the creditor to file a claim against the estate.

Protected Assets

Certain assets are protected from seizure to satisfy claims against an estate. These include the proceeds of life insurance policies, which are paid out to designated beneficiaries. In addition, any accounts designated as "transfer on death" (TOD) or "payable on death" (POD) are also paid to beneficiaries, not to the estate or creditors. A joint account with right of survivorship will pass assets directly to the surviving owner and do not go through the estate. Thus, they are protected from claims against the estate.

Insolvent Estates

In some cases, an estate may not have sufficient assets to satisfy all valid claims against it. When this happens, the probate court must prioritize the claims and schedule payments to the creditors according to state law.

Trusts

A trust allows an individual to pass assets to beneficiaries without the expense and procedural delays of probate court. The trust is a separate entity in which the owner may give specific instructions to a trustee on how to distribute assets and pay creditors, or allow the trustee to pay the debts as he sees fit. In general, Ohio law bars creditors from enforcing claims against trusts with this "discretionary" provision.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
What is the New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Claims Against a Decedent's Estate?

References

Related articles

Who Pays the Debts of a Will?

Paying creditors is an important part of the probate process of a will. Probate law in most states imposes limits on what creditors can and cannot do to collect on debts owed to them by the person who died. Next of kin are rarely held responsible.

How to Prove That an Estate Is Solvent in Georgia

Georgia law defines a solvent estate as one that has the funds to cover all exemptions and pay all debts according to the hierarchy of debt payment provided by statute. In Georgia, a portion of an estate's value is protected from creditor claims. Debts of the estate are then paid in order according to Georgia statute. Unsecured creditors are paid last if the estate has the money, or assets left to liquidate, to pay them. Georgia estates are assumed solvent unless and until the estate runs out of money or assets available for liquidation during the debt payment portion of the probate process.

Can an Executor of an Estate File Bankruptcy on Behalf of the Deceased in the State of Iowa?

One role of an executor of a deceased person’s estate is to receive creditor claims and pay the creditors before distributing any remaining assets to the estate’s beneficiaries. However, a deceased person can leave behind more debts than assets. In such cases, an Iowa court can declare the estate to be insolvent. Then, the executor can pay some creditors while others may remain unpaid.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Does a Statement of Claim Mean in New Jersey Probate?

When a New Jersey resident dies, the executor of the estate inventories the assets, pays debts, and also transfers ...

What Does It Mean to File a Suit on an Estate?

People often leave behind property to distribute, taxes to pay and debts to settle when they die. These unresolved ...

How to Get an Executor to Probate a Will

If you are expecting to receive property after the death of a loved one, you may be in a hurry for probate to start. ...

State of Georgia Guidelines to Show That a Personal Estate Is Insolvent

Think of it as bankruptcy for the dearly departed. When a person’s estate doesn’t have enough assets to ...

Browse by category