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Why you shouldn’t take items before probate begins

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Probate & Estate Administration |

If a person owns property at the time of his or her death, it may be subject to Kentucky probate laws. A probate proceeding verifies a deceased individual’s will or otherwise determines how assets within an estate should be distributed. Generally speaking, you are not allowed to take items from a deceased loved one’s home prior to the beginning of probate.

You don’t get to decide what is yours to take

The estate representative is responsible for inventorying a deceased person’s assets before they are distributed. If you take anything prior to the beginning of a probate proceeding, it may be impossible to determine the extent of an estate. This may result in a will contest or other legal battles between potential beneficiaries.

The lack of an accurate inventory may also make it harder to determine how much the estate is worth for tax purposes. It’s possible that you will be named in a lawsuit if you take something that doesn’t belong to you or take an item before a judge authorizes you to do so.

The court may order an estate sale

There is a chance that the court may order items within a deceased person’s home to be liquidated at an estate sale. If you have already cleared out the home, there will be no way to sell the items. This may mean that there is no way to distribute the cash from the sale to creditors, beneficiaries, or others who may be entitled to it.

If a loved one dies, it’s acceptable to be anxious about what may happen to their things and the memories that are attached to them. However, it’s generally better to abide by the probate laws in your state instead of taking action on your own.