Kentucky offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using the following probate shortcut -- saving time, money, and hassle.
Kentucky has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Kentucky if no will leaves personal property, and there is a surviving spouse and the value of property subject to probate is $15,000 or less, or if there is no surviving spouse and someone else has paid at least $15,000 in preferred claims. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 391.030.
Preferred claims include:
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 396.095.
The surviving spouse can request an order from the court allowing him or her to withdraw $2,500 from the bank account owned by the deceased person. If the deceased person had a will, the surviving spouse can request that personal property or bank account funds of up to $15,000 of the personal property be set apart by the court and be free of any creditor claims. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 391.030.
The simplified probate procedure can also be used when the value of the estate is less than the surviving spouse's exemption or the exemption and preferred claims. The court can order the assets be transferred to the surviving spouse or a third party as designated by the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse can waive his or her right to the exemption and allow the assets to pass to a third party who paid the preferred claims, or if there is no surviving spouse, the court can order the third party to receive the remaining assets of the estate. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 395.455
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).