Probating a Will starts with proving the Will’s validity. The steps in the probate process differ in each jurisdiction, but typically whomever is named as the Executor in the Will files it and certain legal forms in the appropriate county courthouse. The legal forms differ by state, and sometimes by county. For example, and for your reference, the standard forms required in Kentucky can be found at this link.
At the same time as the Will and corresponding forms are filed by the Executor, the county clerk’s office will set a date and time for the probate hearing. At this hearing, the Executor will take an oath of office and be given the necessary paperwork he or she will need to settle the affairs of the estate. The Executor is then responsible for finding and securing all probate assets belonging to the decedent.
This process can certainly be simple enough under some situations, but often times, circumstances exist that make it necessary for the Executor to obtain legal counsel. For example, the person named Executor may not have the necessary time in their schedule to settle the affairs of the estate, may live in a different state, or may be too grief stricken to give the appropriate attention to this important matter. Commonly, the distribution of the estate outlined in the Will create a conflict between the decedent’s family members, which can be a huge headache for the Executor.
Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, the Executor may need to have certain pieces of real and personal property professional appraised and sold. Often times, additional hearings and paperwork are necessary to file periodic settlement updates to the court. Importantly, in every state, there is a statutory time period in which the estate must remain open in order to allow any creditors of the decedent to file a claim against the estate. If a claim is filed by a creditor, this creates an entirely new problem for the estate, particularly if the estate is insolvent.
Finally, most of the above also applies to estates in which the decedent passed away without a Will (“intestate,” compared to “testate”). The process to appoint an Administrator – which is the term used for an estate without a Will –requires different forms and additional waivers from the decedent’s heirs.
As you can see, the probate process is not black and white. The attorneys at the Law Office of Jonathan A. Hall, PLLC are experienced in opening and settling probate estates. To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, give our team a call today. We have offices in Lexington, Kentucky, and our attorneys are licensed in Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida.