Probate for Estates with Assets Over $30,000

How does Probate Court work in Kentucky?

Kentucky Probate Court is designed to prevent fraud against someone who passed away.  If that person had a Will, the Court oversees the process to make sure the directions in the Will are followed.  If there was no Will, the Court applies Kentucky law to determine what happens with the deceased person’s assets.  In Kentucky, the full Probate process takes a minimum of 6 months because creditors have that much time to file claims against the Estate.  Some Estates can remain open for years if they involve complicated issues or contention among beneficiaries. 

The Court will appoint someone to be in charge of the Estate.  If the deceased person had a Will, the person in charge is called the “Executor.”  If there was no Will, that person is known as the “Administrator” of the Estate.  The Executor is responsible for carrying out the deceased person’s wishes according to the Will.  The Executor needs to liquidate or transfer all assets into an Estate account or directly to the beneficiary.  Then the Executor must be sure that all valid claims against the Estate are paid.  Once that is complete and all necessary taxes are filed and paid, the beneficiaries can finally receive their inheritance.

Do you have to go to Probate Court when someone dies?

Probate Court is the process by which money and property is transferred from someone who passed away.  In order to get access to the deceased person’s bank account, transfer a car or house, you need authority to do so from Probate Court.  If the beneficiaries already received their inheritance, you don’t need to go to Probate Court.  However, if accounts are frozen or a Court Order is needed to sell property, Probate Court becomes necessary.

You do not need to go to Probate Court for money or property with a joint owner.  For example, if a husband and wife own all of their assets together (all bank accounts, house, and cars are in their joint names), the surviving spouse does not need to go to Probate Court when the other passes away.  You also don’t need to go to Probate Court for assets that have a named beneficiary.  For example, if someone is listed as a direct beneficiary on a life insurance policy or retirement account, the insurance or investment company will pay those funds directly to the beneficiary without involving the Court.  You can also avoid Probate Court by placing your assets in a Trust.  The Trustee can distribute the Trust assets without going to Probate Court.

However, if there are assets that do not have a joint owner, a direct beneficiary, or already owned by a Trust, Probate Court is necessary to transfer the assets of a deceased person.

Every situation is different and there are many exceptions to the rules mentioned here.  You should discuss your options with an experienced Kentucky Probate Attorney.  At Bauman Estate Planning, we pride ourselves on earning our clients’ trust by providing exceptional legal services and client support.  We have helped hundreds of people open Estates for loved ones who passed away.  If you live in the Louisville area, we can answer your questions about Probate Court and work through the process with you. 

Call Bauman Estate Planning today or click on the link at the top of the page to schedule a phone call with Jason.