Probate in Ohio is the legal process followed after you die where your assets are collected, debts and taxes paid, heirs identified and finally, your assets are distributed per the terms or your will or state law if you did not leave a will.
Probate can take months to complete and oftentimes it is costly. It can help to avoid probate if you can. To do so, you can ensure your assets are of the type that bypass probate. They are referred to as nonprobate property.
Assets that bypass probate
If you and another person own a home together as joint tenants with right of survivorship, when you die ownership of the home will go straight to the joint tenant rather than go through the probate process.
Any assets held in a trust are also exempt from probate. This is because the assets are no longer titled in your name and are no longer under your control. They are owned by the trust and managed by the trustee. Upon your death the trust assets will be distributed to the trust beneficiaries as dictated in the terms of the trust.
Payable on death (POD) and transfer on death (TOD) accounts are also considered nonprobate property. These types of accounts have a named beneficiary, although it is not automatic — you must actively fill out a form naming a person as beneficiary on accounts like these. When you pass away, the funds in these accounts bypass probate and go straight to the named beneficiary. Bank accounts are a common type of payable on death account.
Life insurance policies do not go through probate because they have a named beneficiary who will automatically get the insurance proceeds when you pass away. Similarly, retirement accounts with a named beneficiary also bypass probate.
Not all assets go through probate
As this shows, there are many types of assets that bypass probate. With the proper help you can construct your estate plan in a way that avoids probate as much as possible.