Probate, Trust Administration and Guardianships

Probate and Trust Administration

Probate and Trust Administration are the legal proceedings to administer property at the time of an individual’s death.  The general goals are as follows:

    • Collect and administer all assets belonging to the decedent.

    • Pay valid claims and expenses in accordance with lawful priority.

    • Distribute the balance to the appropriate beneficiary or beneficiaries.

Generally probate property is all property titled in solely decedent’s name.  Property that is not probate property, and therefore is not part of the probate proceeding, includes:

    • Property held by the decedent and another as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

    • Property held in a trust.

    • Accounts that are payable on death (POD) or will transfer on death(TOD) to a named beneficiary.

    • Insurance or retirement benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary.

Trust and nonprobate property passes directly to a named beneficiary or survivor outside  probate proceeding.  Probate property must be administered in accordance with Ohio law and under the jurisdiction of a County probate Court.


A guardianship is a legal proceeding whereby the Court appoints and individual (called the guardian) to oversee the legal and financial affairs, and/or the personal care, of a minor or of an adult (called the ward) who is not able to manage his or her own affairs because of advanced age or some other physical or mental disability. Under Ohio law, a guardianship is an involuntary proceeding when family members or others ask the probate court to protect someone who appears to be incompetent. A so-called “voluntary guardianship” for a physically infirm, but otherwise competent, adult is more properly known as a conservatorship. 

Generally, one can be the guardian of a person and/or guardian of an estate.  The guardian of a person is one charged with the responsibility of providing for the physical and emotional well being of the ward.  The guardian of an estate is charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the assets of the ward.  Both a guardian of a person and a guardian of an estate are answerable to the Probate Court in the jurisdiction where the guardianship was filed.

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