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Rights to Information and Rights of Beneficiaries

Rights to Information and Rights of Beneficiaries in Ohio

Being the heir or beneficiary to an estate can be a lot like flying blind. Those appointed to positions of authority, such as an executor, administrator, or trustee, are the pilots. Everyone else is just along for the ride. 

Many heirs are surprised to learn how little they will know, even after being named in a loved one’s Last Will and Testament. Consulting an experienced Cleveland probate lawyer is never a bad idea. An experienced law firm can provide peace of mind throughout the process, protect you from liability, and ensure that you receive your inheritance in accordance with a loved one’s last wishes. 

Too often, people think consulting an attorney will only increase the tension and emotion of settling an estate. Typically, the opposite is true. An experienced Cleveland probate lawyer can help remove the emotion, and even preserve your long-term relationship with other family members. This is particularly true in cases where disagreements are bound to arise early and often. 

Understand the Estate Settlement Process in Ohio

Under Ohio law, states are settled a number of ways: 

  • Through a Last Will and Testament: This may include a bequest of certain assets to certain heirs, or more general guidelines, such as a percentage of an estate. It may also utilize trusts to disperse income or assets and may list other things like life insurance policies. 
  • Without a Will: An estate is settled in accordance with Ohio law. Known as intestate, this generally leaves an inheritance to the decedent's closest relatives (spouse, children, parents) and then to more distant relations. 
  • Through probate court and/or outside of probate: Many people are surprised to learn that some or all of an estate may pass to heirs without ever going through probate. This can include some real estate, as well as assets held in certain trusts, and assets with named beneficiaries and/or that are payable on death or transferable on death. 

The role of Executors, Administrators, Trustees

Those in charge of accounting for assets, paying debts, and making distributions to heirs include executors, administrators, and trustees. Executors are identified in a Will or other estate-planning documents as the person chosen by the decedent to carry out such duties. When no one is named, or that person refuses to serve, the court will appoint an administrator. A trustee is chosen by trust documents to fulfill that role within the scope and confines of a trust. 

Everyone else is essentially left on the sidelines to wait for the checks. 

An executor or administrator has three primary duties: To account for all debts and assets, to pay all legitimate debts in accordance with Ohio law, and to distribute remaining proceeds in accordance with the Will or other governing documents. 

The probate court recognizes this leaves other beneficiaries in the dark and, as a result, has instituted some reporting requirements. However, no such accommodations are typically made for assets that are transferred outside probate court, which is where consulting with an experienced probate lawyer in Cleveland can be invaluable. 

The Law Offices of Daniel McGowan, LLC is a full-service law practice, with extensive experience in the areas of litigation and trial practice, elder law, and probate law and trust law.  Daniel McGowan is well known for his experience with the probate process and Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio and probate courts.  He has a reputation for being accessible and for his thoughtful and innovative manner he solves probate problems and other civil disputes.

Daniel McGowan represents clients in probate and estate matters throughout the Cleveland area, including Lakewood, Rocky River, Fairview Park, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, East Cleveland, Linndale, Brooklyn, Parma, Brook Park. Newburgh Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights, Bratenahl and Euclid.

Call 216-242-6054 today for a free and confidential consultation.

Law Offices of Daniel McGowan, LLC is a full-service law practice, with extensive experience in the areas of litigation and trial practice, elder law, and probate law and trust law. The information on this website, however, is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Each legal situation is unique and you should consult with a reputable attorney regarding your specific circumstances.
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