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General Info.

Estates of Erie County residents are administered by the Erie County Probate Court. There are basically three types of administration determined by the gross amount of assets in the probate estate. Probate Assets are assets titled in the name of the decedent (the person who has died). All J & S (joint and survivorship), POD (payable on death) and TOD (transfer on death) accounts or real estate titled in this manner are NON probate assets and vest ownership on date of death with the beneficiary. The same is true of trust assets. However, a surviving spouse is entitled to two automobiles without going through the probate process. This can be accomplished by the spouse taking the title(s) and death certificate to the Clerk of Courts Title Department, where a spousal affidavit can be signed.

An original will should be admitted to probate within a reasonable length of time. A will can be admitted to probate by any person who has the original will. After the will is admitted, the person named should apply to be appointed to administer the estate.

If probate assets total $1,000 or less, (or $6,000 or less with a surviving spouse) a Short Form Release can be filed. A copy of the paid funeral bill must be submitted or assets will be ordered transferred to the funeral home up to the amount of the bill.

If probate assets total $35,000 or less, (or $100,000 or less and the surviving spouse is entitled to all of the assets and date of death is after 3/18/99) a Release from Administration can be filed. A commissioner will be appointed to collect and transfer the assets. 

If probate assets total over $35,000 or $100,000 as stated above, a Full Administration must be filed. If there is a will (testate) an Executor or Executrix will be appointed. If there is no will (intestate) an Administrator or Administratrix will be appointed to collect and distribute the assets. Administrators and Administratrixes must file an appropriate bond (twice the personal property). Only an Executor/Executrix or an Administrator/Adminstratrix has the power of sale of real estate. A Commissioner can only transfer real estate to the heirs.

For dates of death after January 1, 2002, an Ohio Estate Tax Form must be filed only if assets total over $338,333. For dates of death in 2001, the amount is $200,000. Prior to 2001, the amount is $25,000.

These instructions are only a guideline and not to be construed as unchangeable facts as the law is updated often. An attorney should be contacted if you have any questions.