When your beloved husband or wife passes away, there is no doubt that you will face a challenging period of adjustment. The death of a spouse is a difficult loss to bear. However, one difficulty you do not have to endure is costly and time-consuming probate. As the surviving spouse, the process of inheriting the estate is fairly straightforward. Likewise, if you are the sole heir of an estate, probate will be less complicated than if there are multiple heirs. In either situation, the estate planning team at Littlejohn Law can help you through a stress-free probate process.
For a Surviving Spouse, Most of the Estate Will Not Pass Through Probate
As a married couple, most of the property and assets you have are jointly owned. That means that when one of you dies, the other simply becomes the sole owner of the assets. This does not require any legal action or court involvement. Assets that are non-probate assets include:
- Assets owned in survivorship tenancy. Also referred to as “joint and survivorship,” these assets likely include your home and any vehicles that you owned with your spouse.
- Assets held in trust. If you and your spouse set up a revocable living trust, those assets are protected from probate.
- Assets with beneficiary designations. If your spouse named you as the beneficiary on life insurance policies or pensions, transfer of the assets will not require probate. Even if others—such as your children—are named as beneficiaries, there is no need to probate the assets. They will simply go to the designated beneficiary.
- Joint bank accounts. Any accounts bearing both of your names will remain the property of the surviving account holder with no action needed.
The only assets that will have to be probated are those that were owned solely by the deceased spouse. However, this can be accomplished with a simplified probate process that only takes a few months to complete. When you work with Littlejohn Law after the death of a spouse, you can count on us to sort through the assets, determine what needs to go through probate and what does not, and deal with the probate court. We will even help you get the community services you might need to cope on your own.
Smooth Probate for Sole Heirs
If you are the sole living heir to an estate but not the deceased’s spouse, the probate process can also be easily managed. While more assets will have to be probated than for a spouse, if there is no one to contest the will or fight over the process, probate can be accomplished efficiently and with no stress to the heir.
Contact Our Experienced Ohio Probate Attorneys
If you have lost your spouse or are the sole heir to an estate, you can count on Littlejohn Law to settle the estate as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Over the phone, we can tell you what documents we will need to review, and you can simply drop them off at our office. We will get to work as you take the time you need to mourn your loss. We even offer a free resource, What to Do When a Loved One Passes: A Survivor’s Checklist, to help you at this difficult time.
We work with clients across the state of Ohio—as well as out-of-state clients with property in Ohio. Contact our office, and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.