Probate is the legal process that is used to transfer title of assets from the decedent (person who passed away) to his or her devisees (recipients named in the will) or heirs (recipients named by law). Probate can be informal or formal, depending on the situation which includes but is not limited to looking at the amount of assets owned at the time of passing and how those assets are titled. The probate court will validate the will, if there is one, or apply the intestate laws, if there is not, to distribute assets and settle debts. Intestate laws apply when there is no will and the assets will pass to the heirs in accordance with the law of the state the person died in.
Probate can be time-consuming and expensive. Avoiding probate can help distribute an estate faster and at a lower cost. There are several ways to avoid probate in Kentucky such as setting up a trust before death, which allows the beneficiaries to receive the assets immediately without going to court. Another way is to use payable-on-death or transfer-on-death accounts for bank accounts, investments, vehicles, and real estate, which automatically transfer the assets to the named beneficiaries after death. A last will and testament can also streamline the probate process by naming a personal representative and the manner of property distribution.