Five Steps to Open an Estate at Probate Court
A loved one has died. You are named as the Executor in his Will. How do you open an estate?
You must open an estate at the Probate Court in the county where the decedent lived at the time of his death if he owned assets which must be probated.* There are five steps to open as estate:
- Check with the Probate Court to see if the decedent had a Last Will and Testament on file at the Court. If so, note the case number.
- Complete and file an Application for Authority to Administer Estate and Form 1.0 ("Surviving Spouse, Children, Next of Kin, Legatees and Devisees") at Probate Court.
- If the decedent had a Will, complete and file an Application to Probate Will, along the original Will, at Probate Court.
- Show the certified copy of the decedent's death certificate to the Court's clerk for scanning/copying into the Court file.
- Pay the initial court costs by cash, creditor card, or attorney check. These initial filing fees vary per county. For example, in Cuyahoga County, it costs $250.00 to open an estate. In Lorain County, it is $300.00.
After this initial paperwork is filed, you will be required to post a fiduciary bond if the decedent did not have a Will, the Will does not waive bond, or you live out of state. In addition, you will need to notify the people listed on Form 1.0 that the decedent's Will has been admitted to probate (if applicable). Please consult with an experienced probate attorney to help you with the estate administration process.
*Please note that if the total value of the decedent's probate assets is under a certain amount, you may not need to open an estate. You may be able to file an Application to Relieve Estate from Administration or an Application for Summary Release from Administration. An experience probate attorney will help you determine which applications you need to file at Probate Court.