Understanding Kentucky Probate and Estate Administration
‘Probate' is a term referring to the administration and closing of a decedent's (deceased person's) estate. Probate is not mandatory for estates that have been wound up prior to the decedent's death, and avoiding probate is often advantageous for the decedent and their beneficiaries. However, this is not always possible, and if necessary, it is wise to understand the estate administration process in its entirety. Our probate and estate administration attorneys at Darpel Elder Law specialize in estate planning, including methods and tools to avoid probate, and administering an estate from start to finish.
Contrary to popular myth, probate isn't as scary as you might think. Fortunately, Kentucky's probate system is relatively streamline.
So What is Probate?
Kentucky statute defines probate administration as the process of winding up a decedent's estate in court. In order for a decedent's personal representative (i.e., Executor or Administrator), to have authority to act on behalf of an estate, he or she must first petition the district court for such authority. The decedent's personal representative must also present to the district court a list of the decedent's assets and liabilities. Sometimes the personal representative is required to provide a full accounting and written distribution of assets to beneficiaries. First the decedent's personal representative or loved ones, with the assistance of an attorney, will need to determine where to file proceedings. Probate proceedings are typically held in the district court where the deceased relative owned real property or resided. The decedent's beneficiaries or personal representatives also need to determine if a will exists, or if the decedent left specific instruction regarding distribution of their assets.
If no will exists, property is distributed based on applicable laws in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. You may also owe inheritance tax depending on the value and contents of the estate. If there is no will, sometimes people come out of “the woodwork” to lay claims to a decedent's estate or assets. That is why it is critical if your deceased loved one left no will, that you hire an estate and probate attorney as soon as possible to ensure you adhere to probate filings and avoid false claims to the decedent's estate.
Preparing for Probate and Estate Administration
You can begin to prepare for estate administration prior to the death of your loved one. It is helpful to locate financial documents, bank statements, life insurance declaration pages, certificate of title, mortgage documents, and passwords to access accounts. You also want to identify a list of liabilities, unsecured loans, credit card account statements and other debts the decedent did not pay off.
Contact Darpel Elder Law Today
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and are now faced with the probate administration process, know that you are not alone. Our attorneys at Darpel Elder Law understand the unique sensitivity of losing a loved one. Our attorneys can help you with all things probate-related, including winding up of affairs, complete accounting and distributing remaining property of the decedent. Call us today to schedule a consultation.