How to Settle a Mother's Estate in Ohio

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Settling the estate of your deceased mother will require different actions, dependent upon whether or not your mother left a will that is valid in Ohio that details how she wanted her estate divided. If your mother died intestate (without a will), the matter must be referred to the probate court, who will appoint an administrator and divide her estate in accordance with state probate law. If your mother died with a will, the probate court will officially appoint the person she designated as administrator in her will and oversee division of her estate in accordance with her will.

Without a Will

  • Contact the probate division of your county's common pleas court and advise the division that your mother has died without a will.

  • Provide the probate division with contact details for your mother's next of kin and successive relatives. For example, give them details of her spouse, sons, daughters and grandchildren. The court will then appoint an administrator of the estate, which is generally the next of kin. The administrator must be an Ohio resident who is capable of ensuring that your mother's finances and estate are resolved according to Ohio probate law. If an appropriate administrator cannot be appointed from family members, the court will appoint a court staffer as administrator.

  • Provide a copy of the letter of appointment issued by the probate court that designates you as administrator of your mother's estate to banks, insurance companies and other institutions that oversee your mother's assets. This will allow you access to her assets.

  • Make an inventory of all your mother's assets and their value. You must file this with the probate court within three months of your appointment as administrator.

  • Collect together all your mother's assets and information regarding all outstanding debts. Creditors must be paid before assets are divided. Prioritize creditors, and, if the estate is small, ensure that they are paid in the order as set down by the probate court. For example, outstanding taxes and funeral expenses must be paid first.

  • Divide the remainder of the estate in accordance with Ohio’s statute of descent and distribution. Failure to do so can render you liable to legal action to recover assets that were incorrectly distributed.

With a Will

  • Read your mother's will and determine who she has appointed as executor of her estate.

  • Contact the probate division of your county's common pleas court and apply for a letter of administration as executor to allow you to administer the wishes of your mother's will.

  • Provide a copy of the letter of appointment issued by the probate court that designates you as executor of your mother's estate to banks, insurance companies and other institutions that oversee your mother's assets. This will allow you access to her assets.

  • Make an inventory of all your mother's assets and their value. You must file this with the probate court within three months of your appointment as administrator.

  • Collect together all your mother's assets and information regarding all outstanding debts. Creditors must be paid before assets are divided. Prioritize creditors, and, if the estate is small, ensure that they are paid in the order as set down by the probate court. For example, outstanding taxes and funeral expenses must be paid first.

  • Divide the estate in accordance with your mother's wishes as expressed within her will. Failure to do so will render you liable to legal action to recover assets that were incorrectly distributed.

References

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