The full probate process in Kentucky typically lasts 6-12 months. In certain circumstances, the court will dispense with administration of a probate case.
Kentucky probate cases are heard in district court. The district court has authority to dispense with administration depending on who is asking and the size of the estate.
Where the deceased had few assets it can be much simpler to petition the court to dispense with administration.
For example, a widower dies with $2,000 in a bank account and a 10 year old vehicle valued at $6,000. He has no other assets. In order for the county clerk to transfer ownership of the vehicle or for the bank to release the funds in the account, a court order is required. By dispensing with administration, the child(ren) of the deceased can get such an order without the need for a full probate.
Who can seek a motion to dispense?
The surviving spouse, a surviving child, or a preferred creditor may file the petition to dispense with administration of probate.
The surviving spouse is pretty self-explanatory. It's the person who was still married to the deceased at the time of their death. Under Kentucky law, the surviving spouse is entitled to the first $15,000 of a probate estate.
A surviving child is also pretty self-explanatory. If there is more than one surviving child, then all of the surviving children must agree to dispensing with administration. If there are surviving children but no surviving spouse, the children share the surviving spouse's $15,000 exemption.
A preferred creditor is a creditor of the deceased who is owed for the costs of probate, for funeral expenses, for taxes, or for other priority debts.
How big can the porobate estate be to seek dispensation of administration?
In short, $15,000. That's because the purpose of the statute is primarily to enable the surviving spouse (or the surviving children) to be able to obtain their exempt share without the cost and delay of a full probate proceeding. So if the estate is $15,000 or less, the district court has the authority to dispense with administration.
The information contained above is for general information only and is not legal advice. Because your situation is unique, you should consult with an attorney to determine what course of action is right for you.