The concept of probate becomes relevant in one of two situations: (1) when a person is incompetent and cannot handle his or her own affairs or (2) upon a person’s death if there are assets being held in his or her name alone.
In the event of an incompetency, the local Probate Court appoints a Guardian to manage the incompetent person’s (known as the Ward) finances and/or healthcare. Every aspect of the Ward’s life is overseen by the judge of the Probate Court to ensure that his or her best interests are being served. An incompetent person is either someone who is under eighteen (18) or is an adult, but because of illness, age or infirmity, cannot handle their affairs. This process is known as a Guardianship.
When a person passes away and leaves assets in his or her name alone, then the Probate Court will appoint a fiduciary to take control of those assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or, if the decedent did not have a Will, then to next of kin as dictated by Ohio law. This process is known as Estate Administration.