In Kentucky, after a person dies, their estate must be settled. The case will begin with the deceased’s will. From there, the estate might go to probate.
The probate process begins
The court will look at the deceased’s will to initiate the probate process. If there is no executor named in the person’s will, the court will appoint someone so that person can administer the estate. This also occurs if the person didn’t have a will.
The will must be proven
If the deceased person had a will, the next step is for it to be proven. This process is done in court and involves a witness being present for the opening of the will. If the will is self-proved, it’s signed by the individual and two witnesses. The signatures must have been witnessed by a notary public. If the will was completely handwritten by the decedent, proof of the person’s handwriting is required by someone familiar with it.
The estate is administered
The estate is then administered, which involves the executor creating an inventory of the assets and filing it with the district court. This must be done within 60 days from the date the executor is appointed. All the assets included in the inventory need to be valued.
Paying back creditors
If the deceased owed money to creditors, those expenses are paid. This includes any debts, taxes and things like funeral expenses. If anything has already been paid, a close surviving family member of the deceased can provide proof of payment to the court.
The estate is settled
After all the taxes and debts have been paid, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor will then have to prepare a final settlement to be filed with the district court. However, the settlement can only be filed until at least six months after the executor’s appointing.
An estate settlement can be formal or informal. The process can take two years or even longer, so it’s important to be aware of each step involved.