Experienced Guidance Through The Probate Process
When a person dies, those they leave behind have some work to do to finalize the affairs of their estate. Sometimes, this can be done without help from a court. But when a court is involved, the process is called probate.
Depending on several important factors, probate can range from fairly quick and simple to lengthy and complex. No matter what the case may be, it is a good idea to work with an experienced probate attorney to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that the decedent’s wishes are honored.
A Basic Overview Of The Process
It all starts by filing a petition with the court. This must be done in the county where the decedent resided. Other documents must be included with the petition, including the will.
Next, the executor of the estate (often with the help of an attorney) will collect, itemize and catalog all estate assets. This is a time-limited process, so it is important to work efficiently. After inventorying assets, the executor will use estate funds to pay outstanding debts or bills related to the estate, file a final tax return (and pay applicable taxes) and settle any other outstanding financial matter.
Finally, the executor will distribute the possessions and assets of the estate to the named heirs in accordance with the decedent’s will, except for assets governed by other legal instruments (such as a trust).
What Happens When There Is No Will?
When someone dies without making a will, they are said to have died “intestate.” In such cases, their assets are distributed according to Kentucky intestacy laws.
If the decedent was married at the time of death, half of the estate assets will be given to the surviving spouse and the other half will be divided among the decedent’s children. If the decedent was unmarried/divorced/widowed and didn’t have children, their estate would be distributed to relatives in ranked order of closeness.
Needless to say, intestate probate is not ideal in most situations, and it is a reminder of how important it is to have an estate plan in place. Nonetheless, Kentucky’s intestacy laws at least ensure that a decedent’s assets will be passed along to family members, when possible.
Let Our Firm Help You During This Difficult Time
Probate is difficult enough without the added difficulty of grieving the loss of a loved one. If you have been named the executor of an estate and are now being called upon to fulfill that role, our firm is ready to help you handle every aspect of the probate process. We will help ensure that there are no mistakes, omissions or unnecessary delays.