The term probate comes from the Latin word probatio, meaning to prove.  Our usage of the term probably derives from early English religious courts where matters were proven before an ecclesiastical judge.  Early American probate courts were modeled on these English courts, and had jurisdiction over wills, decedent’s estates and guardianships.

Each county in Ohio has a probate court which handles the estates of persons who have died.  These courts also have jurisdiction over marriage licenses, adoptions, guardianships, among other things.

The word probate is often used to refer to a proceeding in probate court which deals with the property owned by someone who has died (a decedent).  The probate proceeding makes sure the debts and taxes owed by the deceased person are properly paid, and that the remainder of the property is distributed to those entitled to receive it under the decedent’s will or under Ohio law.

A probate estate is filed in the probate court of the county where the deceased person lived.  If the decedent also owned real estate in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary in that state.