Knowing how the probate process in your state works can be a pivotal element in your approach to estate planning. In those states where the process is more complicated, you might consider creating a living trust instead of passing your property by will to avoid probate. Ohio probate law requirements are comparatively uncomplicated, however. If you select an executor with reasonable organizational skills, she should be able to handle your estate and your creditors with few problems because the state doesn’t require much in the way of publishing notices.
Release from Administration
Ohio law requires published notice to your creditors under two circumstances. If you leave only a small estate -- the total value of your assets doesn’t exceed $35,000 -- or you leave everything to your spouse up to $100,000, probate is not necessary. If you neglect to leave a will, your estate can still escape probate if all your property passes solely to your spouse under Ohio’s rules for intestate succession and you either have no children or your spouse is the other parent of all your children. In these cases, your executor must publish notice in a newspaper, letting creditors and other interested parties know that she’s asked the court to release your estate from probate administration. The judge will direct whether notice must be published once a week for two weeks or once a week for three weeks.
Your executor may also have to publish notice to your creditors if she personally has a claim against your estate of $500 or more. When she makes the claim, the court will schedule a hearing. She must notify your heirs, beneficiaries and creditors specified by the court. If any of these individuals or creditors are not located in the same county where your estate is being probated, your executor must publish notice of the hearing in a designated newspaper for three weeks.
If anyone was suing you at the time of your death, your executor must notify this person or entity, but not by publication and only if you were being sued in the state of Ohio. The lawsuit must have been initiated before your death and your executor must file notice with the court that’s hearing the case, letting the plaintiff -- the person suing you -- know that an executor has been appointed to manage your estate. The executor has 10 days to do this after learning that someone was suing you.
Other than these requirements, it’s pretty much up to your creditors to initiate claims against your estate for payments owed. Your executor should notify them of your death in writing if she knows the accounts exist, if you’ve mentioned them in written directions to her or if she found invoices among your papers. She does not have to publish notices. The creditors must make their claims for payment within 30 days after receiving notice or within six months of the date of your death, whichever comes first. If the creditors don’t act within these time periods, they generally will not receive payments from the estate. Your executor has 30 days after receiving a claim to decide whether it’s valid and to pay it or reject it.