“Intestate” is a legal term for the estate of a person who dies without a will, according to Ohio’s inheritance laws. While having a will in place when you die allows you to control how your assets will be distributed, the state’s intestate succession statutes dictate how a court will award your property to family and others when an estate plan doesn’t exist.

A court looks at property divided into two parts. Real property is real estate, such as a home, land or anything else connected to the ground. The other part is personal property, which includes all of your other possessions.

Ohio’s probate process

Courts distribute a person’s property through the probate process. When a valid will is involved, they usually follow the person’s plans and allow an executor, named by the decedent, to carry out those wishes. However, when no estate plan is in place, they will follow state laws. Estates can avoid probate, or an expedited process can happen if these conditions exist:

Avoid probate entirely if either:

  • The estate is valued under $45,000, and the surviving spouse is the only heir
  • The estate’s value is under $5,000, and the decedent’s final expenses are under $5,000

Expedited probate process if either:

  • The estate is valued under $35,000
  • The estate’s value is under $100,000, and the surviving spouse is the sole heir

How is property distributed?

If the surviving spouse and the decedent had no children or all of their children were with each other, the surviving spouse gets 100% of the estate. If the decedent has more than one child from another relationship, the surviving spouse receives the first $20,000 of the estate plus a third of the remainder. However, if the surviving spouse is the parent of at least one child with the decedent, their share rises to the first $60,000 of the estate, plus one-third of the remaining balance.

Consult a probate attorney

Settling an estate without a valid will or trust can be a complicated and emotionally-charged process. Even if a will is in place, you may have been wrongly excluded from inheritance or discover assets are missing or hidden. An experienced probate attorney here in Ohio will represent your interests and help you resolve those conflicts during the probate process.