Probate law can seem intimidating to some Kentucky residents. Many people have heard horror stories about the probate system. When someone you love has died, it’s natural to worry about probate. Fortunately, the process can go smoothly depending on your situation.
When a judge weighs in
Many estates are easy to disburse, such as when the decedent’s will is valid and clear. Other cases are more difficult. When someone dies without a will (i.e., intestate) or leaves an invalid will, complications arise. The decedent’s relatives can also decide to contest the will. These are scenarios where probate may be necessary.
In such situations, a probate judge will need to weigh in. You might worry that the case will become chaotic or that the judge will be unfair. However, probate is not chaotic. State laws cover a variety of tricky situations when it comes to estate disbursement.
A judge’s role
A judge will try to determine what the decedent wished to happen after his or her death. State laws also determine which relatives take priority when disbursing the estate. An heir-at-law is a relative entitled to at least part of the decedent’s estate if there is no will. Laws defining what each heir-at-law deserves are reasonably clear.
Though probate judges are human, and humans are never entirely impartial, the law itself is structured to promote impartiality. Probate judges combine the constraints of the law, their interpretation of the law and their own judgment to reach decisions.
However, some situations make it difficult for a judge to be impartial. For instance, if the judge is friends with an involved party, that could make impartiality difficult. If you’re worried about a judge’s impartiality in probate court, you might benefit from contacting a lawyer with experience in probate law.