Many Kentucky residents who must deal with the probate process are not sure what to expect or have questions about what is involved. This is understandable since the process is often assumed to be costly and/or lengthy.
While that is true sometimes, it usually depends on the specific circumstances and the size of the estate. If you find yourself dealing with probate, it helps to know what to expect.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of carrying out the terms of someone’s will after they pass away. If they passed away without a will, their assets are distributed according to Kentucky’s probate laws rather than the terms of a will.
An executor is a person responsible for completing these tasks. The executor is named in the will, or if the is no will, appointed by a court.
Assets and debts
The first step is identifying and valuing all assets. Even if assets are listed in the will, a search should be conducted to find any other assets out there or determine if any listed assets were sold or given away.
The next step is doing the same with all the debts. Any of the decedent’s creditors must be notified of the death so they can object to asset distribution.
The debts must generally be paid before the assets are distributed. In some cases, the executor must prepare and file a final tax return for the decedent and pay any tax debt.
After this, assets can be distributed, either according to the will’s terms or probate laws. There is always a chance an heir can object to the terms of the will, but challenging a will is often difficult.
The final step is closing out the estate. This is a basic overview of the probate process. Sometimes unexpected events or delays can complicate or lengthen the process, so it is important to have proper guidance if you are appointed an executor.