Kentucky Probate Lawyer
At O’Bryan Law Offices, we understand how hard it is to lose a loved one. The grieving process becomes even more difficult for those who are responsible for participating in the probate and estate planning process. Although it might be the last thing on your mind while you’re grieving, the probate process is extremely important when one loses family members. That’s why a Kentucky probate lawyer with O’Bryan Law Offices is here to help you. Our law firm has extensive experience handling cases involving the probate process, estate planning services, and bankruptcy law. To schedule a free consultation with us regarding your case, please call our Louisville bankruptcy attorneys at 502-400-4020 today.
What Does Probate Mean?
Probate law outlines a specific legal process that occurs when someone dies. With the help of probate attorneys, family members go through the probate courts to both validate and administer the will of a deceased loved one. The process also aims to prove the authenticity of the will in question.
Specifically, the probate process serves to analyze and distribute the estate assets of a deceased person. The probate court reviews the decedent’s estate and gives a final ruling on how the assets will be divided and distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Estate Planning vs Probate
Many people assume that probate proceedings and estate planning matters are the same under Kentucky law. They are two different processes. The main differences between the two are the processes and the timing. To simplify it, probate involves making a trust or a will enforceable through the legal system. Estate plans are written up and finalized before someone dies. Estate plans aim to plan out your financial future, manage your estate and assets after your death, and act like a will. We recommend contacting a Kentucky estate planning attorney for your estate planning needs.
Probate Lawyer Meaning
So what exactly are probate attorneys? Probate lawyers are responsible for helping individuals carry out their estate administration duties. No matter how much or how little you need your KY probate attorney to do, they are invaluable assets to have during the probate process. Some of what our Kentucky probate lawyers help with include paying the debts of the deceased and distributing their assets according to either their will or to state law.
What Is the Difference Between an Estate Planning Lawyer and a Probate Lawyer?
It’s important to note that Kentucky probate attorneys and estate planning lawyers provide different legal services in the same area of estate administration and planning law. However, there is one notable difference between the two. Probate lawyers provide legal services by handling estate administration after someone passes away. They can also be the administrator or the executor of an estate if nobody else is designated. Probate law is a very specific area of family law.
Estate planning lawyers, however, work with clients who are still living. These legal professionals help with certain aspects of elder law, such as trusts, wills, power of attorney, and living trusts. In other words, they provide legal counsel to families when it comes to eldercare planning and reducing taxes on inheritances. One law firm may handle both fields, while another law office may specialize in one or the other.
What Do Probate Lawyers Do?
Probate lawyers handle a wide range of legal issues. However, the specifically provided legal services vary depending on what the personal representatives actually need from them. Other factors that determine what probate lawyers do include whether or not there is a will, how complex the decedent’s estate is, whether or not any member of the family presents challenges, and many other factors.
Let’s first assume that the decedent has a will. If the will is valid and complete, many probate lawyers are hired as consultants for the estate’s administrator. However, should any will contests or other challenges arise in probate cases, the probate lawyer takes on a much more active role. Even though most wills go through the probate process without difficulty, probate attorneys are called in when certain challenges or legal issues come up. When someone dies with a valid will in place, they are said to have died “testate.”
Now let’s assume that the decedent does not have a will. This is referred to as “intestate.” In this case, Kentucky state laws determine who inherits what. It’s important to understand that these laws vary greatly from state to state. For this reason, we highly recommend hiring an attorney who has extensive experience practicing law in this particular field.
Probate lawyers and estate administrators both must strictly adhere to state laws when it comes to property distribution. No matter what the deceased said before death or what the members of the family say, the estate’s assets must be distributed according to state law.
What Can a Probate Lawyer Do for You?
Probate lawyers can help with a wide range of probate issues. They can also be present in purely consultative roles. They are especially helpful when the executor or administrator of the will lives out of state. Below, we outline some of the more specific ways in which probate attorneys can be invaluable.
- Find and collect from life insurance policies.
- Manage the checkbook of the estate.
- Get appraisals for assets.
- Find, secure, and inventory the estate of the deceased, which includes personal property, bank accounts, real estate, and more.
- Determine whether or not certain debts are valid, as well as advise the family on how to pay those debts.
- Prepare and file the necessary probate court documents.
- Prepare the decedent’s last tax filing and relevant tax returns.
How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Kentucky?
If an estate is relatively uncomplicated, it may not be necessary to undergo the probate process. However, estates of a certain value are subject to the probate process under Kentucky law. Specifically, those estates with more than $15,000 in probate assets are subject to the probate process. We highly recommend working with an experienced attorney in order to determine properly whether or not someone’s estate is exempt from probate.
How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Loved One’s Death?
According to the Kentucky Revised Statutes, individuals are required to complete probate within 10 years after the death of the decedent. However, we highly recommend filing sooner rather than later. This ensures that you and your attorney will have plenty of time to properly value the estate, file the paperwork, and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Kentucky Probate Law and Process
As we mentioned before, each state has its own unique probate process. In Kentucky, there are a few important rules to be aware of throughout the probate process.
- Estates valued at under $15,000 are not always subject to probate, as they are considered small estates.
- Another way to avoid probate is to place the estate in a revocable trust and name someone as the beneficiary.
- Executors may receive compensation up to 5% of the estate’s value and 5% of the income of the estate that the executor receives while they are managing the estate. A Kentucky probate court can change the amount of compensation if the executor goes above and beyond during their management of the estate.
- KRS 385.190 states that the probate must remain open for at least 6 months. In many cases, however, the process takes much longer than 6 months. More complex estates can take well over a year to sort out.
- No matter whether or not the estate must go through probate, wills must be filed with the court in order to prove their validity and to settle potential disputes.
- More information on the probate process in Kentucky can be found in the KRS chapters 394 through 395.
KY Probate Forms
Throughout the probate process, you will likely need to submit several forms to the probate court. Your Kentucky probate lawyer will help you obtain these forms, fill them out, and submit them properly. While it is possible to do this on your own, we highly recommend having an attorney at least look over your forms before you submit them.
Do You Need a Kentucky Probate Lawyer?
While probate lawyers can be very helpful in many cases, not every case necessitates hiring one. The best way to determine whether or not you need a probate lawyer is to ask yourself questions about the following issues.
- Whether or not you have handled probate cases in the past
- How easy the probate process is in your state
- Whether or not the estate has enough money to pay its debts
- If the estate can avoid probate and be distributed easily
- How well the family members involved get along
If you feel unsure or if you lack confidence in any of the above areas, you may want to consider hiring accomplished legal professionals from O’Bryan Law Offices. We have decades of combined legal experience, and we offer a free initial consultation to every client so that we can help keep their financial stress levels low.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?
Unlike many personal injury and criminal defense lawyers, the attorneys at O’Bryan Law Offices do not charge an upfront fee for consultations. We understand that many of our clients are under a tremendous amount of emotional and financial strain. That’s why our goal is to avoid contributing to that strain while we help you sort through your affairs. Before at least scheduling a consultation, it is nearly impossible to determine what you might end up paying a probate lawyer once all is said and done. However, most probate attorneys charge clients in one of the following ways.
- Hourly rates
- Flat fees
- Percentages of the estate’s total value
What Should You Ask Your Probate Lawyer?
Before ever consulting a lawyer, we recommend preparing a list of important questions to ask them. This will help you in the end, as you will begin the process on the same page as your attorney. Below, we outline some of the most important topics to ask your attorney about before hiring them.
- The process of probate and estate planning as it relates to your case
- Whether or not they specialize in probate law
- Whether or not they have handled a case like yours
- An outline of their services
- How they intend to bill you
- Whether or not the lawyer you consult with will handle your case
Contact Our Experienced Kentucky Probate Lawyers
Regardless of whether or not you have personally handled a probate process in the past, it’s never a bad idea to have an attorney guide you through the process. Probate can become exponentially more complicated over just a few small details. This is why working with a qualified probate attorney is essential. At O’Bryan Law Offices, not only can we help you with estate planning in Kentucky and Southern Indiana, but we can also help you with probate. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call our office at 502-400-4020 today.