Probate, which is the court-supervised process of administering a deceased person’s estate, can be lengthy and costly for your surviving family members. With careful estate planning, however, you may be able to shield many of your assets from the probate process. 

Use these strategies to help the heirs of your estate avoid probate in Ohio. 

Leave everything to your spouse 

If you have a surviving spouse and leave all your assets to him or her in your will, up to $100,000 of your estate is exempt from probate under Ohio law. The same guideline applies if you have a spouse but pass away without leaving a will. These estates must undergo a simplified probate process, which takes about two to four months. 

Create a living trust 

A living trust is a legal document that places a named trustee in charge of certain assets. After creating the trust, any and all property you transfer to the living trust can bypass probate in Ohio, including real estate, vehicles and bank accounts. The trust document establishes the terms under which the trustee should distribute the trust assets to your beneficiaries. With a revocable living trust, you can make changes at any time. 

Establish transfer-on-death accounts 

Bank accounts and other assets with a transfer-on-death designation can go directly to your named beneficiary upon your death, no probate required. With this document, you remain in control of the money until the end of your life. Ohio allows this type of affidavit process for: 

  • Savings accounts 
  • Certificates of deposit 
  • Brokerage accounts, including stocks and bonds 
  • Real estate 
  • Vehicles 
  • Life insurance policies 

Estates worth more than $35,000 in nonexempt assets must go through probate in Ohio. Depending on whether anyone contests your will, the process will take about six to eight months. With probate, the executor must publicize the estate and give creditors six months to make claims against the assets for unpaid debts and taxes.