The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, Ohio offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." If the property you leave behind at your death is below a certain amount, your loved ones can use a simplified procedure to transfer your property more quickly and with less hassle.
Ohio has two very similar simplified probate processes called "summary release from administration" and "release from administration." Check if your estate qualifies for either of these.
You can use "summary release from administration" in Ohio if either:
If you qualify, you can apply for this procedure with the local probate court in the county where the deceased person was living. You'll need to fill out forms and provide documentation such as the will (if there was one), death certificate, funeral bills and receipts, and documentation of assets.
Once the court grants summary release, the assets can be transferred.
A similar procedure called "release from administration" is available if either:
In the estate qualifies using the first criterion (if the value of the estate is $35,000 or less), the inheritor must give notice to the surviving spouse, if any, and to the heirs. The inheritor may also be required to publish notice of the filing of the application.
After an application is approved, the probate court will issue an order that states no further administration is necessary, and direct the property to be transferred.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).
For more on Ohio estate planning issues, see our section on Ohio Estate Planning.