Female attorney speaking with elderly female client

Tips For Streamlining The Estate Administration Process 

By Joshua Berkley

Estate administration in Kentucky involves a series of steps that ensure the decedent’s assets are distributed according to their will (if one exists) or Kentucky’s intestacy laws (if there is no will). It can be a complex process, but understanding the key steps and strategies can help ensure the administration process goes as smoothly as possible.

Considerations To Help Streamline the Estate Administration Process

1. Understand Kentucky Estate Laws: You will need to understand the probate process in Kentucky, which is the legal process for transferring the deceased person’s assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. Keep in mind that Kentucky also has a provision for a small estate administration for estates with assets under $30,000, known as a Petition To Dispense With Administration.

If an estate qualifies as a “small estate,” an interested party may be able to use a Petition To Dispense With Administration to claim assets rather than going through full probate. Once the Petition To Dispense With Administration is completed and an Order is entered by the court, it can be presented to entities holding the decedent’s assets (like banks) to transfer them without going through the full probate process. Lastly, there may be different rules if the estate includes real estate; in some cases, a simplified process may not be applicable.

Kentucky has not imposed a state estate tax to date. However, always keep current on the laws or consult a tax or estate planning attorney to ensure they have not changed.

2. Gather Important Documents: Locate the deceased’s last will and testament. Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate, as various institutions require this. Collect documents related to the deceased’s assets (bank accounts, real estate titles, stocks, bonds, etc.). Lastly, gather all records pertaining to debts, including mortgages, loans, credit cards, and utility bills.

3. Inventory Assets and Liabilities: Complete a comprehensive inventory of all assets within the estate, including tangible property, financial accounts, and personal belongings. Similarly, compile a list of all known debts and liabilities.

4. Notify Relevant Parties: Inform banks, brokerage firms, and other institutions of the death. Notify beneficiaries and heirs as required by Kentucky law. Lastly, Kentucky law requires notifying creditors, allowing them to make claims against the estate.

5. Open a Probate Case: File a petition with the local probate court in the county where the deceased lived. The court will appoint an executor (if named in the will) or an administrator (if there’s no will).

6. Manage the Estate: Open a bank account for the estate to manage incoming funds and pay outstanding bills. After debts and taxes are settled, distribute the remaining assets according to the will or Kentucky’s intestacy laws (if there is no will).

7. Close the Estate: Prepare a final accounting of the estate’s finances for the court. Obtain court approval for the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. File any final paperwork required by the court to close the estate.

8. Seek Professional Help: Consider hiring an attorney experienced in estate administration in Kentucky. You might also need a tax advisor or an accountant to help with estate and final income taxes.

Contact a Shelby County Estate Planning Attorney

Each estate is unique, and the specific steps required can vary based on its complexity, the existence of a will, and other factors. Being organized, maintaining detailed records, and seeking professional advice when necessary can help streamline the estate administration process in Kentucky. Berkley Oliver PLLC has experienced estate planning/administration attorneys in Kentucky who can help navigate your estate administration needs. Contact our office for a consultation today.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.