The financial costs of probate include attorney’s fees and court filing fees. The court filing fees are minimal in Ohio. However, the fees for the attorney might be significant. In Hamilton County, Ohio, an attorney who performs legal services for an estate may receive 5.5% of the first $50,000 in assets, 4.5% of the next $50,000 in assets, 3.5% of the each of the next three one hundred thousand dollars and 2.5% of all assets in excess of $400,000. Additionally, attorneys may receive 1% of all assets not subject to the probate process.

Because of the potentially large attorney’s fees, an individual can save his heirs money if he minimizes the exposure of his assets to the probate process.

Probate records are open to the public. Therefore, the assets owned by an individual at the time of his death can be seen by members of the community. As a corollary to this, the amount of assets inherited by each of his heirs is also a public record. With more probate courts placing their records on line, the public will be able to access the records of deceased members of the community with a few mouse clicks.

Tips/Recommendations

To avoid the probate process and minimize legal fees and/or retain privacy by not having probate records appear publicly, an individual should consider implementing a trust and funding it. If you are looking for an attorney to handle an existing estate, I handle probate matters and generally set my fee as a small percentage of the estate.