Ohio’s Response to COVID-19 Impacting Probate/Trust Law and the Courts
Ohio’s Response to COVID-19 Impacting Probate/Trust Law and the Courts

While Ohio Courts remain open for essential business, several well-intentioned legislative and judicial steps have eased the judicial burdens during the Governor’s Emergency Order.  Many people still have questions about how the health crisis created by COVID-19 affects probate practices, including estate and trust administration and probate litigation.

In response to the health crisis, on March 9, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Executive Order 2020-01D (the “Emergency Order”) “declaring a state of emergency in Ohio to protect the well-being of Ohioans from the dangerous effects of COVID-19.” On March 27, 2020, Governor DeWine further signed into law Am. Sub. House Bill 197 (“HB 197”) which was enacted in response to the Emergency Order. The intention behind HB 197 is to strike a balance to keep Ohio Courts open for essential services during the COVID-19 health crisis while minimizing the need to compel litigants, practitioners, and citizens to come to Court.  In this regard, HB 197 acts to toll any “civil * * * time limitation or deadline under the Revised Code” retroactive from March 9, 2020 until the earlier of a) July 30, 2020, or b) when Governor DeWine’s Declaration of Emergency ends. In this context, the tolling of limitations and deadlines acts to suspend due dates within the time frame covered by HB 197.

With HB 197 only applying to the time limitations and deadlines legislatively enacted under statute (“Revised Code”), on March 27, 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court also issued an order which tolls, within the same time parameters under HB 197, the time requirements and deadlines as established by all Ohio Supreme Court promulgated rules, including the Ohio Rules of Superintendence —which are of particular importance to probate practitioners. Further, many probate courts have issued emergency orders addressing deadlines, which are also consistent with Governor DeWine’s Emergency Order, HB 197, and the Ohio Supreme Court’s order. 

 In light of these unique and unprecedented changes in Court business, if you have any questions relating to probate court or probate, trust or wealth transfer administration or litigation, please feel free to contact us at Reminger.

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