Probate is the process of administering and distributing the property of a deceased person under court supervision. In our nearly 50 years as probate and trust administration attorneys in Central Kentucky, we have helped families experiencing probate for the very first time as well as families who have been through contentious and difficult probates in the past.
When you work with our team to manage probate for your loved one’s estate, you can count on us to be compassionate, tactful, efficient, and loyal to the deceased’s intentions. If your loved one had significant assets, the smartest decision you can make is to hire an experienced probate attorney to guide your family through the process and protect your loved one’s wishes.
What Happens During Kentucky Probate?
Except for estates with very few assets, probate is necessary to settle an estate and begin the process of distributing assets. The purpose of probate is to validate the will and ensure that assets are accounted for, debts are paid, and property is distributed according to the deceased’s wishes. The will should name an executor who is tasked with overseeing this process. If an executor is not named, or there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator.
The probate process requires a lot of time, some level of financial literacy, and a great deal of responsibility. The executor is expected to initiate and oversee the following steps:
- Locating the deceased person’s original, signed will
- Filing a petition asking the district court to admit the will to probate
- Proving the validity of the will with sworn statements from one of the witnesses who signed the will
- Conducting an inventory of all assets subject to probate in the deceased person’s estate within 60 days
- Notifying everyone who stands to inherit under the will
- Paying all enforceable estate debts and taxes
- Distributing assets according to the will
- Filing state and federal income taxes in the year following the year of death
Problems and challenges can arise at any point during this process, and the executor will have to deal with them. In a best-case scenario with no complications, the probate process takes about six months; however, it often takes longer.
How a Probate Attorney Can Ease Your Burden
If you are dealing with a high-value estate, there is too much at stake to trust a layperson with the job. A probate attorney will:
- Meet with the family to explain what needs to be done and to discuss their options.
- Initiate probate.
- Assist the executor with all of their duties.
- Handle problems that arise, such as will contests, claims on the estate, missing property, and breach of duty by the executor.
Your family is already suffering a loss; don’t jeopardize the gifts your loved one intended to leave you by not being fully prepared for probate.
Assets That Do Not Pass Through Probate
Not all estate assets have to go through probate. If your loved one did smart estate planning, they probably protected the bulk of their assets from the process altogether. Any property or accounts with a second owner (usually a spouse) will remain in the survivor’s name. Insurance policies and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries will be passed on outside of probate. Any accounts with payable on death designations will also pass to the beneficiary without probate. Finally, assets held in a living trust are protected from probate.
Distributing trust assets falls to the named trustee; this can also be a complicated process. Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Humphrey offers trust administration services to help guide this process as well.
We Are Here for You in Your Time of Need
You are in mourning, and the last thing you want to think about is your loved one’s will. We understand that this is a vulnerable and confusing time for you. When you reach out to our office in Radcliff, we will walk you through our services and help you determine if we can be of assistance to you and your family. You have enough to cope with right now; allow us to do what we do to take probate off your mind. Contact us today.