When considering a person’s options for probate avoidance in the state of Ohio, specifically with respect to the transfer of ownership of real property (or real estate), there are a few options to consider. Ohio law allows for two or more persons to own property jointly with rights of survivorship – this means that upon the death of one owner, the surviving owner(s) is able to transfer the property to themselves by affidavit, rather than having to administer that property through the county probate court. In order to avoid probate court intervention for the transfer from a deceased owner to a surviving owner(s), a person should ensure the deed or other instrument under which they took ownership of the property uses the language “joint with rights of survivorship” or similar language.
The next consideration is to address how the property passes to the next generation. This is most commonly discussed as it pertains to parents passing real property to their children upon death again outside of the probate court, but could also apply to passing real property to grandchildren, friends, other family members or even to charity. Ohio laws allow for a Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit (“TOD Affidavit”) to be prepared and recorded with the appropriate county recorder. Such TOD Affidavit is effectively a beneficiary designation for your real property. The TOD Affidavit must be signed by the owner of the real property, and must be recorded prior to the death of the owner. The TOD Affidavit will identify a person’s current ownership interest in the property (a person does not have to be the sole owner in order to execute a TOD Affidavit), and who they want the property to pass to upon their death. A person can name one or more beneficiaries, and each beneficiary could receive the same or varying percentages of ownership of the property.
Upon execution and recording of the above documents, a person should be able to pass their ownership of real property to their spouse, children or otherwise, without the property having to be administered through the county probate court, unless any of those persons are minors. We prepare and execute these documents with our clients as part of their estate plan, or individually if real estate is the only asset that needs to be addressed.
Contact the attorneys at Thomas Law Group to discuss your real estate ownership, and how you can accomplish passing or transferring your ownership to your spouse, children, etc. outside of the probate court upon your death.