A History Of Growing Trust In Kentucky

How does Kentucky’s probate process work?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2023 | Probate & Estate Administration

Probate is the court-supervised method of validating a person’s will when they die, settling their estate and distributing assets according to their wishes. Kentucky’s process involves three basic steps:

  • Filing a petition with the court: A copy of the death certificate and a valid will (if one exists) must be filed with the district court clerk in the decedent’s home county.
  • Inventorying debts and assets: The executor or a personal representative must provide a comprehensive list of the decedent’s assets and obligations within two months.
  • Settling the estate: The executor pays taxes and all other debts relating to the estate and provides the court with receipts of all disbursements.

After paying debts, the executor distributes the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs as the will outlines. The property is distributed according to Kentucky’s succession laws if the decedent dies without a valid will, known as intestacy.

Assets that avoid probate

Probate must remain open for at least six months but can take much longer. For many beneficiaries, it’s often a lengthy, expensive, confusing and stressful process. That leads many people to take steps to avoid the process to spare their families the hassle. There are several ways to accomplish this, such as:

  • Placing assets in trusts: Property contained in trusts bypasses probate. You can put virtually any asset in a trust, managed by a trustee, who distributes the property when you die.
  • Right of survivorship: If you co-own property with a spouse or another person, it can pass directly to the other owner upon your death through joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety rules.
  • Payable-on-death accounts: Bank accounts, investments, life insurance policies and retirement accounts can pass directly to your beneficiaries upon death.

These methods and others can ensure your assets are distributed efficiently to those you designate. Reviewing your beneficiaries and updating them when life events warrant changes is crucial. Guidance from an experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help you find a plan that meets your unique needs.