Before someone dies, they may have chosen someone they know to serve as their personal representative or the executor of their estate. Other times, the Kentucky courts may name someone based on the relationship that they have with the decedent.
Sometimes, the person who could be the best personal representative does not actually live in Kentucky. Someone who lives in another state may find handling probate proceedings in Kentucky to be relatively challenging. There are unique issues that may arise during cross-state estate administration that people need to recognize and address as soon as possible.
Differences in the law
Someone quickly searching probate rules on their computer or mobile device likely sees results based on their current geographic location or home address. Any personal experience that they have or any information shared by their social connections may reflect the laws in another state and not in Kentucky. Someone tasked with the administration of a Kentucky estate must ensure that they understand and comply with the laws in Kentucky throughout the probate process.
Risks for valuable assets
Someone who lives outside of Kentucky may have a difficult time securing the property of the decedent. For example, if they own real estate, it might sit vacant for some time. Not only could that put the property at risk of criminal activity, but it could also lead to a drop in the property’s overall value that could reduce what beneficiaries inherit.
If someone does not own real property but rather rents, that can be a concern as well. Landlords might clear out a rental unit and dispose of someone’s property. Roommates, romantic partners or other family members might access someone’s home regardless of whether they rent or own. They might take assets that should be part of the estate for their personal enrichment without consideration of how doing so undermines the wishes of the deceased.
If someone who lives in another state tries to manage probate proceedings on their own, they may need to repeatedly travel from their home location to Kentucky or arrange to stay in Kentucky for the better part of a year. It is sometimes possible to sidestep travel obligations by retaining in-state legal representation. An attorney can attend court hearings and file necessary documents with the probate courts to ensure that the personal representative remains in compliance with Kentucky probate laws. They could also help the representative of the estate connect with local services to resolve other challenges.
Although it can be very challenging to administer an estate from a different state, it is still theoretically possible. Recognizing the unique challenges inherent in overseeing probate proceedings from outside Kentucky may benefit those who have to manage the estate of someone who has recently died. Seeking legal guidance in Kentucky can also be helpful.