When a person in Ohio dies before planning their estate, the surviving family members usually have to go through probate court in order to settle the estate. The family member who is chosen to act as the estate's personal representative will have to apply for the position by filing a probate action.
Unless bond was waived in the deceased person's will, a family member who is applying to be the personal representative of an estate is required to pay a bond to the probate court. The cost of the bond varies and could be very high if the personal representative has a poor credit score. Probate court requires a bond as an insurance measure in case the personal representative makes a mistake while they are administering the estate.
The personal representative of an estate will have many responsibilities during the probate process. All interested parties, including people who are not listed in the will, must be given notice of the probate action. A notice to creditors is also required when a will is going through probate. If the personal representative does not perform all of their duties properly or violates any probate statutes, they may become personally liable for the oversights.
An estate planning lawyer may be able to help an individual to structure their estate in a way that may allow their heirs to avoid having to go through probate court. One of the ways that a lawyer may do this is by helping a person place some of their key assets in trusts. If financial accounts have up-to-date beneficiary designations, these funds may also be transferred outside of probate.