Ohio residents will usually name an executor in their last will and testament as a way to control how their assets are distributed following their death. However, some people may delay estate planning or not care very much about it. If you fail to name an executor or make provision for your estate, a state court is going to name an executor for you. Without making your wishes known, the court may pick someone you would not have chosen.
The Ohio State Bar Association explains who the court will likely pick if you die intestate, meaning you have passed away without a will. State law necessitates that a court turn to the surviving spouse of the person who has died as the first candidate to be an executor. If the decedent did not have a spouse, the court will ask a next of kin, such as a child, to serve as executor. Whoever can serve as executor has to be a resident of Ohio. In the event no relative is available, the court will simply pick someone it deems suitable.
There are a number of problems with letting a court pick your executor. You might have no problem letting your spouse handle your estate, but if you pass away at an old age, your spouse might be elderly as well and not able to handle the duties of your estate. Also, Ohio courts will not automatically pick your spouse or relative. If the court decides your loved ones are unsuitable for the position, it will choose someone else.
Conversely, you may not want your spouse to become your executor, or you may not want any of your relatives to handle your estate. Without a will, you have no control over how your executor is chosen. Even if you do choose an executor, you may want to select a number of successors. Remember that a person can refuse to be an executor if asked by a court. An executor candidate can also refuse even if your will names that person to be an executor.
Ultimately, to make probate less complicated, spelling out your wishes in a will is a better bet than leaving it up to a court. The estate needs of Ohio residents will differ, so do not consider this article as actionable legal advice for your situation. It is only written as general information on the topic of probate.