Estate Administration is the process by which legal title of property is transferred from the decedent’s estate to his or her designated beneficiaries or legal heirs. Estate administration is generally initiated by the Executor or Administrator and is supervised by the Probate Court and Judge. Generally, there are three phases to estate administration: opening the estate, collecting and distributing assets of the estate, and closing the estate.  The process may involve, validating the decedent’s will, appraising property, accounting for assets in an inventory, paying the decedent’s debts and expenses, and distributing the net estate according to will or state law. There are three primary types of estate administrations in Ohio, Administration of a Full Estate, Release from Administration and a Summary Release from Administration. Asset value generally determines which administration must be used.

Estate Planning

Estate planning depends upon the the testator’s assets, goals and concerns. The desired outcome is an orderly disposition of the testator’s assets upon death with minimal exposure and expenses associated with probate court and or inheritance tax. Estate administration should alleviate disputes among family members in that the testator’s wishes regarding distribution of assets are clearly stated.  A variety of “tools” are used in the estate planning process, including but not limited to survivorship deeds, transfer on death deeds, Payable on death designations, Transfer on death designations and JTWRS designations.