Hopkinsville Probate Lawyers Working to Provide Better Futures for Our Clients and Their Families
In Kentucky, when someone dies, part or all of their assets will be distributed to heirs through a court-supervised process called probate. Probate also includes payment of any debts and taxes that the decedent’s estate may owe, and this is done before passing on any assets to beneficiaries. At Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC, Attorney John Crow has worked with many families on their estate planning and probate matters and offers answers to some of the most common questions about probate in Kentucky.
Is Going Through Probate Mandatory for All Estates in Kentucky?
Not every estate will require probate proceedings in Kentucky. The state only requires that assets owned solely by the decedent without a beneficiary designation go through probate. This may mean that only part of an estate will go through probate at times. Any assets with a payable-on-death or transferable-on-death designation can avoid probate and go directly to designated beneficiaries..
If there are any outstanding debts and tax payments to be made, those will need to be taken care of during probate before the assets can be distributed and the estate closed. In cases where the estate is valued at $15,000 or less or when there is a joint tenancy of a property, such as the family home, probate is not usually necessary unless there is a dispute among beneficiaries.
What Happens If Someone Dies Without a Will in Kentucky?
If a person dies without a will in Kentucky, his or her estate will be subject to Kentucky’s intestate succession laws and will be divided accordingly. The estate will go through probate, and all debts, claims, and taxes will be paid off. If the decedent left a surviving spouse, that spouse will receive half of the decedent’s estate.
The state will then look at other levels of kin to decide which heirs will get a share of the other half of the estate. Usually, any children of the deceased person will share the inheritance. If none are living or if the person did not have any children, the state will look for the decedent’s father and mother. This continues as the state will try to locate the nearest living lineal ancestor to the decedent. Once beneficiaries are located and assets are distributed, the estate will be closed.
How Long Does It Take to Go Through Probate in Kentucky?
If there are no significant factors that may delay the process, probate usually takes eight months on average in Kentucky, but it can take up to a year or more in some cases. Here are some examples of situations that may result in a long probate process:
- A large number of beneficiaries or beneficiaries geographically spread out in different states or different countries may cause delays because the state will need to take the proper time to communicate with each one of them
- An executor who lacks the organizational skills to execute tasks required or who is incompetent can slow down the process
- When the estate is large enough that it requires taxes to be paid, no assets can be distributed until the proper documents are gathered and an estate tax return is filed and accepted by the IRS, which can take up to a year
- Will challenges and disputes among beneficiaries (including disputes that require litigation) will need to be resolved before the estate can be closed, and this is a common reason for probate delays
- Estates with complex or unusual assets or assets that require further analysis to receive an exact valuation
Do I Need an Attorney?
A skilled attorney can assist you and your family at every step, gathering the necessary documentation, filing forms, and helping you avoid common mistakes that may result in delays and expenses. Closing an estate is a time-consuming process that can quickly become overwhelming when you are trying to navigate Kentucky laws to understand what needs to be done next while you are still grieving from your loss.
Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC has helped many families in Hopkinsville and Western Kentucky navigate probate by removing complexities and making the process simpler. Call us at 270-569-0006. We know the process can feel overwhelming, but we can help.