When people in Kentucky pass away, their will needs to be probated before the underlying property can be passed to their heirs or beneficiaries. The probate process is overseen by the probate court and involves specific steps. Some assets do not need to go through it to be transferred, however.
What is the Kentucky probate process?
The process for estates that need to go through probate begins by filing a petition with the probate court in the county in which the decedent lived. If the deceased person left a will, an executor was likely named to handle the estate. This person would be responsible for filing a probate petition. If the decedent died without a will or did not name an executor, a family member could file a petition to initiate the probate process. The court would then appoint a personal representative to handle the estate.
Opening an estate
Once the probate case is opened, the executor or personal representative will need to inventory the assets and file it with the court within two months. The executor or personal representative will be responsible for paying debts owed by the decedent’s estate before distributing the assets. If there is a will, the remaining assets should be distributed according to its provisions. If there is no will, the assets must be distributed according to the intestate laws of Kentucky.
The probate process is not always necessary. Small estates with assets valued at less than $15,000 in total likely won’t need to be probated. Specific types of assets, including real property titled as joint tenancy in common with the right of survivorship, life insurance with a named beneficiary, retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, and other jointly owned property can pass directly to the joint owner or the named beneficiaries without going through the probate process. People who want to avoid probate can create revocable trusts to pass assets directly to the named beneficiaries outside of the court process.