A loved one’s death invariably causes grief and sadness. Unfortunately, it often comes with a great deal of confusion too – especially when it comes to matters involving the settling of the deceased’s estate. Even when the decedent actually has a will or other estate plan in place (and more than half of all adults in the country do not!), the process of wading through assets, paying off debts and taxes, and distributing inheritances can be time-consuming, costly, and complex. Regardless of whether you’re a named heir or executor, chances are that you’ll have many questions about how everything works. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help provide the guidance and insight you need.
Why Probate is Needed?
It is important to understand why probate exists. Probate is a legal process that is used to ensure the payment of a decedent’s debts and the distribution of the estate’s assets to heirs. Without such a system, every estate would be vulnerable to endless legal battles as heirs and possible heirs fight over assets that the deceased left behind. Probate provides a court-supervised way for those issues to be resolved without the chaos and confusion that might otherwise ensue.
However, probate is not always necessary. For example, if assets have other means by which ownership is transferred after death, then there would be no need for probate. That can be accomplished through the use of trusts, transfer-on-death provisions in bank accounts, the use of joint tenancy, and so on. For all assets that have no other means of transferring ownership, however, probate is used to determine how property is distributed. In many cases, the distribution simply follows the terms of the deceased’s will. Where there is no will, however, the Kentucky intestacy laws dictate how assets are divided among the surviving heirs.
Information About Probate in Kentucky
Because probate can be a complex process involving many legal questions, it is always best to rely upon experts and trustworthy resources when you try to learn more about the process. In Kentucky, the courts have provided a downloadable Guide to Basic Kentucky Probate Procedures that can help to answer many of the most common questions related to the probate process in the state. The Court of Justice also provides a Legal Glossary on its website to help you define various legal terms used in probate documents and proceedings. Finally, you can locate the various forms needed for executor filings on the Court’s legal forms page.
Kentucky Probate Laws
It can also be helpful to examine the state’s probate statutes. These can be found online in Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapters 394 and 395. These statutes cover topics ranging from wills to debtor rights, intestacy, and allowable funeral expenses.
Information about Kentucky Estate Tax Concerns
Because of changes to estate tax laws in recent decades, Kentucky has no estate tax at the current time. However, you should read about Kentucky’s inheritance tax to better understand the tax implications involved with estates in the state. You can find that information on the Department of Revenue’s website. You can also call the department at (502) 564-4810.
The Laws Governing Estates: How Other States Deal with These Issues
There has been a movement throughout the country to develop more uniformity in these laws across all state lines, but there are still differences in how the various states handle estate matters. As a result, you may find yourself dealing with the laws from several different jurisdictions as you navigate the probate process. To better understand how probate works in other jurisdictions, it is important to know how those other states approach these issues. Fortunately, Everplans has put together a list of the various states and their probate rules.
Kentucky Probate Court Resources
If you’re a named executor in a will, you will at some point have to get in touch with the appropriate probate court. This is necessary to file for recognition of your roles as the deceased’s representative, and to pay fees and provide reports and documents. One of the easiest ways to reach the proper court is to use the Court of Justice court listings provided on their website.
Estate Planning Resources for Kentucky Residents
Questions about probate often lead to questions about estate planning in general. For many people, even one experience with the probate process can spark a desire to learn more about how probate can be avoided altogether. For others, there is just a desire to get their own affairs in order to ensure that their loved ones have an easier time navigating the probate process in the future. In either instance, the desire to better prepare for your future and protect your family is an honorable one. The good news is that there are many reliable resources that can be used to learn more about these issues.
- You can find more information about Kentucky’s Probate and Estate Tax here.
- Kentucky Wills laws provide information about the Last Will and Testament, as well as intestate laws. The statutes linked to on this page provide information about the age requirements for wills, oral and handwritten wills, revocation of any will, and even the number of witnesses you need to make a will relevant.
- Kentucky Trusts Law. This includes all of the relevant statutes covering trusts in the state.
- This link provides helpful information about the Durable Power of Attorney in Kentucky. You can learn what it is, how it works, and which statutes cover this important estate planning tool.
Legal Assistance You Can Rely On from Potter Estate Planning
At the Potter Law Firm, we know that the most important resource you can have available to you during the probate process is an experienced estate planning attorney. Our probate team can help to guide you through these complex matters with sound advice and assistance that will ensure that your interests are safeguarded every step of the way. We can also assist you with your own estate planning, to ensure that your end-of-life and legacy planning are designed to accomplish your objectives. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with your estate planning and elder law needs, contact us online or call (704) 944-3245 today.