The probate and estate administration process in Kentucky is designed to be quick and efficient, however, there are several important requirements to handle before an estate is closed. Whether you have been appointed as the executor of a loved one’s estate plan or a close relative has died without a Will in place, it is essential to work with an experienced probate attorney.
Berkley Oliver PLLC regularly assists clients throughout Central Kentucky with the probate process. We provide advice and guidance to executors and estate administrators so that they can faithfully carry out their duties.
We understand the challenges of administering a loved one’s estate and will provide you with informed representation and moral support during this difficult time. Contact our Shelby County office today to arrange a consultation.
What Is the Probate Process in Shelby County?
Probate is a court-supervised process to validate a Will and officially appoint the named executor to administer the estate. When someone dies without a Will, a close relative of the deceased must ask the court to be appointed as the estate administrator.
Executors and estate administrators are tasked with several important duties, including:
- Notifying the named beneficiaries and heirs of the decedent’s passing
- Inventorying and appraising the estate assets
- Paying the decedent’s debts
- Filing the decedent’s final income taxes
- Paying federal estate taxes, if applicable
- Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries
- Closing the estate
Notably, executors and estate administrators or “personal representatives” are considered fiduciaries, which means that they have a duty to put the interests of the beneficiaries first and preserve the value of the estate assets. Because personal representatives can be held liable for mistakes and/or misconduct, it is wise to work with a knowledgeable probate and estate administration lawyer.
If you are preparing a Will, we can also help you with selecting an executor. While it is common to name a spouse or adult child, the person you appoint must be trustworthy and capable of handling the financial matters associated with administering an estate.
Do All The Estates Need to Be Probated?
Some estate assets are not required to be probated, including:
- Real property in which title is held jointly, with right of survivorship
- Property held by a living trust
- Life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
- Bank and investment accounts with pay-on-death (POD) designations
Also, there is a simplified probate process in Kentucky if the decedent leaves no personal property and the value of the property subject to probate is $30,000 or less.
Shelby County Estate Administration Attorneys
If a close relative has died without a Will in place, our attorney can assist with having the probate court appoint an estate administrator, typically one of the heirs, a legal relative, or a close friend of the decedent, and assist with the estate administration process. You can depend on us to help you understand the proper legal procedures and resolve any disputes that may arise among family members, which is not uncommon when someone dies without a Will. Above all, we will provide you with trustworthy advice and help you fulfill your loved one’s wishes.
Common Questions About Probate & Estate Administration in Kentucky
How much does probate cost?
The cost of probate in Kentucky varies and depends on factors such as:
- Complexity and size of the estate
- Type of estate plans
- Whether heirs contest the Will
There are also common fees in probate proceedings, such as court and filing fees and professional fees (e.g. appraisers), which are paid out of the estate.
How long does the probate process take?
The duration of probate depends on the size of the estate. Most estates in Kentucky can be settled in 6 to 12 months, but more complex estates will take longer.
Does the executor receive compensation?
Executors can be compensated for legitimate out-of-pocket expenses, however, state law sets default executor fees to 5 percent of the total estate value.
How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, an estate must have a gross value of at least $15,000 before it is subject to probate. Estates with a gross value under $15,000 are considered small estates and can use a simplified affidavit process to distribute assets instead of full probate.
If the estate is worth $15,000 or more, the estate representative will need to file paperwork with the probate court and distribute assets through the court-supervised probate process. This ensures proper appraisal of assets, payment of debts, and distribution according to the decedent’s will or Kentucky inheritance laws.
How to avoid probate in Kentucky?
- Keep your estate under $15,000. Gift assets prior to death or set up a living trust to reduce estate value.
- Name designated beneficiaries on assets like retirement accounts, life insurance, bank accounts with POD, etc. These pass directly to beneficiaries.
- Hold property in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. At death, property immediately transfers to the surviving co-owner.
- Gift real estate prior to death. Beneficiaries can file an affidavit to take ownership if gifted over 3 years before death.
- Create a living trust and transfer assets into it. Avoids probate if properly structured and funded.
- Name beneficiaries on transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designations for vehicles, stocks, etc.
- Gift or distribute personal property prior to death using written statements.
How Berkley Oliver Can Help
We will guide you through the probate and estate administration process and confirm that:
- Proper beneficiaries and heirs have been identified
- Appropriate documents are in place to transfer the decedent’s real property
- All proper creditor claims have been paid and improper claims denied
- All assets have been transferred to the proper heirs and there are receipts documenting the distribution
- All titles to assets have been changed prior to closing the estate
Above all, we will help you follow proper procedures and work to protect your interests.
Contact Our Experienced Shelby County Probate Attorney Today!
At Berkley Oliver, we leverage our comprehensive knowledge of the Kentucky Probate Code to help personal representatives settle estates of all sizes. You can depend on us to be your trusted advisors during this difficult time. Contact us today to get started.
Berkley Oliver PLLC helps clients with probate and estate administration in Shelbyville and Shelby, Spencer, Anderson, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties.