Kentucky Small Estates General Summary Law

Wills and Estates – Small Estates – Kentucky

Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost. If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available. Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will. In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:

1. Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court. The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.

2. Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.

Kentucky Summary:
Under Kentucky statute, if the estate of the decedent is sufficiently small as defined by ยง395.455,(please see below), the personal representative of the decedent may receive, by order of the court, the assets of the estate without proceeding to a formal opening of an estate.

Kentucky Requirements:
Kentucky requirements are set forth in the statutes below.

391.030 Descent of personal property — Exemption for surviving spouse and children — Withdrawal of money from bank by surviving spouse.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, where any person dies intestate as to his or her personal estate, or any part thereof, the surplus, after payment of funeral expenses, charges of administration, and debts, shall pass and be distributed among the same persons, and in the proportions, to whom and in which real estate is directed to descend, except as follows:
(a) The personal estate of an infant shall be distributed as if he or she had died after full age;
(b) An alien may be distributee as though he or she were a citizen; and
(c) Personal property or money on hand or in a bank or other depository to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) shall be exempt from distribution and sale and shall be set apart by the District Court having jurisdiction over the estate on application to the surviving spouse, or, if there is no surviving spouse, to the surviving children.

(2) The surviving spouse may, at any time before the property or money is set apart by the court, procure on petition from the Judge of the District Court having jurisdiction over the estate, an order authorizing the surviving spouse to withdraw from any bank or other depository not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) belonging to the estate. Upon presentation of the order, the bank or depository shall permit the surviving spouse to withdraw the sum and shall lodge the order, endorsing thereon the amount withdrawn, with the circuit clerk who shall retain it in the clerk’s files to be considered in connection with further proceedings in the estate and the withdrawal shall be treated as a charge against the property of the estate exempt from distribution.

(3) In the application for the setting apart of property or money under subsection (1) of this section, the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, the surviving children may make their selection out of the personal property of the estate to the extent that the value of the property selected does not exceed the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).

(4) Where any person dies testate:
(a) Personal property or money on hand or in a bank or other depository to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) shall be exempt from distribution and sale and shall be set apart by the District Court having jurisdiction over the estate on application of the surviving spouse;
(b) If there is no surviving spouse, personal property or money on hand or in a bank or other depository bequeathed to surviving children to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) shall be exempt from distribution and sale and shall be set apart by the District Court having jurisdiction over the estate on application by the surviving children;
(c) The exemption of the surviving spouse under paragraph (a) of this subsection is not conditioned upon the surviving spouse renouncing the will, and, in the event of renunciation, the surviving spouse shall be entitled to the exemption
in addition and prior to determining the statutory share of the surviving spouse under KRS 392.080; and
(d) Subsection (3) of this section shall apply with respect to the surviving spouse provided that the surviving spouse shall first select from among the personal property of the residuary estate, then to the extent necessary from among the money on hand or on deposit specifically bequeathed under the will, and then to the extent necessary from among any other personal property specifically bequeathed under the will. Where the selection of the surviving spouse is made up, in whole or in part, from personal property or money on hand or on deposit specifically bequeathed to a beneficiary, such beneficiary shall have a right of contribution on the principles of KRS 394.420 to 394.490 unless the will otherwise directs, or it is necessarily to be inferred therefrom that the testator intended the same to fall on such beneficiary except that there shall be no right of contribution from the surviving spouse.

Effective: July 15, 2010
History: Amended 2010 Ky. Acts ch. 21, sec. 9, effective July 15, 2010. — Amended

395.450 Jurisdiction to dispense with administration.

The District Court that has jurisdiction to grant administration of the estate of a perso dying intestate shall have jurisdiction of proceedings to dispense with administration.

395.455 Transfer of assets without administration.

(1) Where the exemption of the surviving spouse alone, or together with preferred claims paid by a widow or by the widower where the wife’s estate is legally liable for payment, equals or exceeds the amount of probatable assets, the court may order that administration of the estate be dispensed with and such assets be transferred to the surviving spouse or to a person designated by such surviving spouse to receive all or part of such assets. The court may so order in both testate and intestate estates and without requiring the renunciation of a will or the giving of bond.

(2) If the court is satisfied that no probatable estate will pass through the hands of the personal representative, it may order that no letters of administration be issued and in the case of a testate estate that the will be probated only.

(3) Where a surviving spouse has waived his or her right to the exemption accorded by law in favor of a person who has paid preferred claims in an amount equalling or exceeding the amount of probatable assets or who is legally entitled to such payment, or where there is no surviving spouse and such person has made such payment or is legally entitled thereto, the court may order that the administration of the estate be dispensed with and such assets transferred to such person. The court may so order without requiring the giving of bond.

(4) For purpose of this section, the exemption of the surviving spouse is such exemption as has been created by KRS 391.030 and preferred claims are those listed in KRS 396.095 and in the order thereof.


Inside Kentucky Small Estates General Summary Law