By Dan Barney

Estate Planning & the Law

Are there ways to avoid expensive and prolonged probate actions? Last week, we examined the statute 6 OS 906 that provides a way to transfer up to $50,000 of bank accounts to heirs without the need for probate. However, that law applies only if a person died without a will and the heirs sign a sworn affidavit.

This week we review a similar law that applies even if a will exists and will not be used in a probate.

A relatively unknown statute was just updated in November of 2017, and it will permit similar transfers of interests in instruments evidencing a debt owed to a decedent such as an obligation, stock or other security if that asset is valued at $50,000 or less.

This procedure is detailed in 58 OS 393 and requires that a person claiming to be the successor of the decedent present an affidavit made by or on behalf of the successor stating that:

1. The fair market value of property located in this state owned by the decedent and subject to disposition by will or intestate succession at the time of the decedent’s death, less liens and encumbrances, does not exceed $50,000;

2. No application or petition for the appointment of a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction;

3. Each claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property in the respective proportions set forth in the affidavit; and

4. All taxes and debts of the estate have been paid or otherwise provided for or are barred by limitations.

5. A transfer agent of any security shall change the registered ownership on the books of a corporation from the decedent to the successor or successors upon the presentation of an affidavit as above.

This statute broadens last week’s discussion to include situations where there is a will; it also extends the application beyond just banks to include stocks or other property held by others but owed to the decedent.

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