Kentucky Probate | Inheritance Advances in Kentucky

Probate Process In Kentucky

The probate process in Kentucky serves a vital purpose. When a resident of Kentucky dies, the Kentucky probate courts oversee the distribution of all assets and belongings left behind. They first appoint a representative to be in charge of the estate, collect and itemize all assets and monetary accounts, ensure you pay off all outstanding debts and determine the validity of any existing wills. Finally, when the court feels satisfied that you completed all other steps, they authorize the distribution of inheritance funds to the rightful heirs.

Is Probate Required in Kentucky?

Most estates in Kentucky must undergo probate to divide assets among the heirs. Anyone in charge of an estate must be aware of the current regulations regarding the probate process.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Kentucky?

If the individual had a revocable trust and names you as a beneficiary before their death, you could avoid the Kentucky probate process. You will gain control of the assets after the person’s death and avoid the need to undergo probate.

Naming a beneficiary for certain assets will also prevent them from going into probate. Some accounts that can automatically transfer to a beneficiary include:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts

How Long Does Probate Take in Kentucky?

Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, your probate case can last months to over a year. The Kentucky Revised Statute 395.190 requires all probates to stay open for at least six months. However, disputes or contesting the will may cause your probate case to take much longer.

Some reasons probate may last longer than six months include difficulties locating heirs or beneficiaries. In circumstances where the deceased dies without a will, the estate will have to use intestate laws to determine heirs, which can add time to the process.

Steps to Settling an Estate in Kentucky

Kentucky has more lenient probate timeline requirements than other states, but it is a good idea to file sooner rather than later to complete the probate process as quickly as possible. The steps to file for probate include:

Starting the Probate Process

The first step of the probate process in Kentucky is to find the decedent’s original will and file a petition in probate court, which will appoint an executor to administer and settle the decedent’s estate.

If there isn’t a will, you will still file a petition with the court, but the court will appoint an administrator and not an executor.

Probating the Will

The next step will be to probate the will with the county clerk. There are three types of wills one can have:

  • Self-proving: A self-proving will has state-required language and two witnesses with notarized signatures, so it does not require witnesses to verify the will’s validity.
  • Non-self-proving: A non-self-proving will requires at least one witness to prove its validity in court.
  • Holographic will: A holographic will is in the decedent’s handwriting, and two individuals must appear in court to verify that the will is in the decedent’s handwriting.

Administering the Estate

After their court appointment, a personal representative must take control of the decedent’s assets and distribute them. The representative must also submit an inventory list 60 days after their appointment.

Settling the Estate

After paying all debts and distributing assets, the personal representative will file a final settlement. However, the personal representative can only file the settlement after the six-month mark of their appointment date.

Informal Settlement

The court may allow an informal settlement after each heir signs a waiver stating they received their share.

Formal Settlement

A formal settlement requires a legal accounting process of the entire estate to account for all assets.

How Much Does Probate Cost in Kentucky?

The final cost for probate will largely depend on whether the estate is simple or complex or if there are any legal disputes over the estate. Some services that may impact the process’s full cost include:

  • Filing the will: Filing the will involves providing the court with the original document and a copy of the death certificate.
  • Identifying, inventorying and appraising estate assets: This process can slow down and increase the cost of probate, especially if the person has numerous properties.
  • Estate debts and taxes: Paying taxes and debts can involve creditor negotiations, selling assets and filing tax returns.
  • Distributing remaining assets to heirs: Distributing assets requires preparing proper legal documents and ensuring each heir receives what they are legally entitled to.
  • Representing the estate in legal disputes: If the heirs contest the will or dispute the inheritance, an attorney may need to represent the estate in court.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After Death in Kentucky?

As noted in the Kentucky Revised Statute 395.010, you must file for probate within 10 years of the individual’s death. However, filing as soon as possible after the person’s death will allow you to complete the probate process promptly.

What Happens if Someone Dies Without a Will in Kentucky?

Individuals who have no will in Kentucky will have their estate and assets distributed according to State Intestacy Succession laws. These laws will split an estate between heirs and relatives. If the decedent — the person who has died — does not have a legitimate heir, the estate will enter escheat, meaning it will belong to the state of Kentucky. A Kentucky probate court will also name an executor to manage the estate during the probate process.

How to Determine Next of Kin in Kentucky

Kentucky intestate laws are as follows for determining the next of kin if a decedent dies without a will:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children and descendants
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts and uncles
  7. Great grandparents

Does Kentucky Have an Inheritance or Estate Tax?

Kentucky does not tax estates, but if the decedent owned an estate in Kentucky, heirs might need to pay an inheritance tax depending on their relation to the deceased.

Class A

The heirs in this bracket are exempt from paying an inheritance tax, regardless of the inherited amount:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings

Class B

These relatives are exempt if the inheritance is less than $1,000:

  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • Nephews
  • Nieces
  • Great-grandchildren

Class C

These inheritors are exempt if the amount is less than $500:

  • Cousins
  • Friends
  • Organizations

Spouses in Kentucky Inheritance Law

A spouse may be able to prevent probate due to Kentucky’s dower and curtesy laws. If the deceased has a spouse but no other living descendants, the spouse will inherit the entire estate.

In Kentucky, real property is real estate, such as a house and land. Personal property refers to all other possessions, such as cars, furniture and other valuable items. If the deceased had living children, parents or siblings, the spouse will receive half of the decedent’s personal property, one-third of the real property and half of the real property to sell or gift another person. The descendants will receive the remainder of the decedent’s personal and real property.

In most cases where the deceased and their spouse filed for divorce, the spouse will not receive any of the deceased’s assets. A spouse will also not receive any assets if they committed adultery and did not reconcile with the decedent.

Delays to Your Inheritance in Kentucky

The key problem with the Kentucky probate process is that it takes an extremely long time from start to finish. While probate is in process, heirs cannot access the money their loved one wanted them to have. How long does probate take in Kentucky? The average estate in the US takes a full year and a half to finally distribute the inheritance money to the heirs. This fact is shocking to most heirs in Kentucky and elsewhere who are understandably new to the process. Having a rightful inheritance blocked for years by a legal process can prove very frustrating.

Access Your Inheritance in Kentucky Immediately

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