The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, Kentucky offers a few probate shortcuts for "small estates." If your estate qualifies, your loved ones can save time, money, and hassle.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Kentucky in several different situations:
You can skip court proceedings and "dispense with administration" if you are transferring property that doesn't exceed $30,000 and:
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 391.030.) Note that not all creditors are eligible. Kentucky law establishes an order of priority for who can use this process, and surviving spouses take precedence. Among multiple creditors, there's also an order of priority, set out in Kentucky's law on preferred creditors.
To use this process, you'll file a Petition to Dispense With Administration (Form AOC-830) with the local probate court. When the court enters an order approving the petition, you'll be able to claim the property described in the petition. No further court procedures are needed.
If you've been appointed by the probate court as the personal representative (tasked with settling the estate), you can apply for informal settlement of the estate if:
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 395.605.) You'll need to apply by swearing under oath to certain statements set out in Kentucky's probate code. Once your application is approved, you won't need to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can also skip probate if all interested parties agree to do so and:
In this case, you'll need to file a motion in the local probate court, along with the written agreement. You'll need to give notice to potential creditors by posting an ad on the courthouse door for six weeks. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 395.470.)
For more help handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo). For an introduction to how you can plan your estate to help your survivors, try Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).
For more on Kentucky estate planning issues, see our section on Kentucky Estate Planning.