What is Probate?

Each county in Ohio has a probate court which handles the property of persons who have died, as well as wills and trusts. These courts also have jurisdiction over marriage licenses, adoptions, guardianships, and will contests, among other things.

The word probate is often used to refer to a proceeding (or case) in probate court which deals with the property owned by someone who has died (also known as a decedent). The property owned by the deceased person, as well as the probate case, are often referred to as an estate or probate estate.

The probate court makes sure the debts and taxes owed by the deceased person are properly paid, and that the remainder of the property is distributed to those entitled to receive it under the decedent’s will or otherwise pursuant to Ohio law. Generally someone is appointed by the probate court to handle the affairs of the probate estate. And in Ohio that person is known as an Executor, Administrator, or Commissioner, depending on the situation (all can also be called a fiduciary). The fiduciary appointed must distribute the assets as required by the law and may not keep any for themselves unless they are rightfully an heir (although the fiduciary may request to be compensated for their services).

A probate case estate is filed in the probate court of the county where the deceased person lived. If the decedent also owned real estate in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary in that state.