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FAQs2021-03-12T17:12:04+00:00
What is a Revocable Living Trust?2021-05-25T16:06:19+00:00

A Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning option that manages and protects the assets of the individual (grantor) during their lifetime. The Revocable Trust can be amended or revoked as the grantor desires and is included in estate taxes. The Revocable Trust lays out the guidelines of operation for the Trust, what powers the trustee has or does not have, what the beneficiaries are to receive, and how the beneficiaries are to receive the trust property. If properly funded, the Revocable Living Trust bypasses and avoids probate, remains private and becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s death. It also provides you with the ability to customize a plan specific to your circumstances and wishes regarding your legacy. 

What is a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-25T16:18:45+00:00

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to assets and dependents at the time of their death. A person’s Last Will and Testament outlines who will receive their residuary estate. It also outlines who is in charge of the administration of their estate (Executor). In addition, it can contain provisions for guardians of their minor children.

What happens if I don’t have a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-25T16:20:32+00:00

Without a Last Will and Testament your estate will be distributed in accordance  with the Kentucky intestate succession laws. This means that if you are married, your spouse is 4th in line to inherit after your children, parents and siblings. In addition, if you have minor children, their inheritance will be placed in a blocked account. If your spouse is still living and taking care of your children, they will have to go to Court for permission each time they need to access funds to provide for their health, education and welfare. This will also be the case if your children have a Guardian appointed as both parents are deceased. Furthermore, without a Last Will & Testament you can make no provisions for who will become Guardian of your children. This decision will once again be left up to the Court and may be an individual you would have never chosen.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?2021-05-25T16:21:49+00:00

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you name an individual or entity to act as your agent and attorney in fact on your behalf should you be unable to do so in the future. A Durable Power of Attorney is not affected in any manner whatsoever by reason of future illness, disability, physical or mental incapacity of any kind or nature and carries on until your death.

What happens if I don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney?2021-05-26T18:03:33+00:00

A Guardian must be appointed by the Court. You will be subjected to an examination by a panel consisting of a physician, psychologist and social worker to determine your competency. The Court will appoint an attorney to represent you – known as a Guardian Ad Litem. This will be in addition to the attorney hired by the individual seeking to become your Guardian. You will then be subjected to a trial before a 6 person jury who will make the final decision as to your competency and who will be your Guardian. All of this is a very lengthy, stressful, possibly humiliating and quite expensive process coming out of your own pocket. For more information on estate planning.

What is a Living Will?2021-05-25T16:29:54+00:00

A Living Will is a legal document in which you have the opportunity to state your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatment and artificially provided nutrition and hydration if or when you no longer have decisional capacity, have a terminal condition, and become permanently unconscious with no hope of recovery as determined by your attending physician and one other physician. A Living Will only takes effect when you are terminally ill and/or in an irreversible state. It becomes your voice in decision making when it comes to your medical care. You can direct that treatment be withheld or withdrawn and that you be allowed to die naturally with only the administration of medication for the relief of pain or the performance of any medical treatment deemed necessary to alleviate pain once you have reached a terminal or irreversible condition. This condition must be determined by your regular treating physician and one other physician. You can direct the withholding or withdrawal of artificially provided food, water or other artificially provided nourishments or fluids if you so desire. The directives you set forth in the Living Will are carried out by a Healthcare Surrogate.

What is a Special Needs Trust?2021-05-25T16:30:59+00:00

A Special Needs Trust is an Irrevocable Trust used when a beneficiary has disabilities (which can be either physical or mental) and receiving government benefits. This type of Irrevocable Trust is used to preserve eligibility for an individual receiving government benefits for programs through the Social Security Administration such as the Supplemental Security Income program or Medicaid benefits. These individuals are likely to have long-term medical or support needs, and the Special Needs Trust can be a solution to supply funding to provide lifetime quality care. Special Needs Trusts are most often used when dealing with an inheritance or personal injury settlement monies. Another feature of a Special Needs Trust is if a beneficiary lacks the legal capacity to handle their own financial affairs, funds can be administered for their benefit and prevent them from squandering or losing assets due to poor judgment or the inability to understand or comprehend their business affairs.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement and a Postnuptial Agreement?2021-05-25T16:32:38+00:00

A Prenuptial Agreement is executed prior to marriage and a Postnuptial Agreement is executed after a marriage takes place. If your family is the result of multiple marriages or prior relationships, a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement can be an effective estate planning tool to ensure that children from different marriages or relationships will be treated in the manner that you wish. With a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement, you can determine what goes to your current spouse and what goes to your children from a prior relationship.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?2021-05-25T16:33:37+00:00

An Irrevocable Trust cannot be altered amended or terminated by the person creating it. Once the assets are transferred into the Trust without retention of any kind of power over the assets, the person creating the Trust can no longer regain ownership of that asset. However, it provides certain benefits that a Revocable Trust cannot. They can be used for estate and tax considerations. The benefit of this type of Trust for estate assets is that it removes all incidents of ownership.  It can be used in conjunction with qualifying for Medicaid.  Irrevocable Trusts can also be useful to individuals who work in professions that may make them vulnerable to lawsuits, such as doctors or attorneys. Once property is transferred into an Irrevocable Trust, it is owned by the Trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. Therefore, it is safe from legal judgments and creditors, as the Trust will not be a party to any lawsuit. 

What is a Miller Trust?2021-05-25T16:34:52+00:00

A Miller Trust, also called Qualified Income Trusts, is an Irrevocable Trust that provides a way for Medicaid applicants who have income over Medicaid’s limit to become eligible for Medicaid long term care. In short, income over Medicaid’s limit, is put into a Trust and therefore not counted as income, thus allowing the applicant to become eligible.

What is a Medicaid Trust?2021-05-25T16:35:54+00:00

A Medicaid Trust is an Irrevocable Trust that provides a way for Medicaid applicants who have assets over Medicaid’s limit to become eligible for Medicaid long term care. Simply stated, these Trusts protect a Medicaid applicant’s assets from being counted for eligibility purposes. This type of Trust enables someone who would otherwise be ineligible for Medicaid to become Medicaid eligible and receive the care they require at home or in a nursing home. Assets in this type of Trust are no longer considered owned by the Medicaid applicant. Medicaid Trusts also protect assets for one’s children and other relatives

What is a Charitable Needs Trust?2021-05-25T16:36:59+00:00

A Charitable Trust is an Irrevocable Trust consisting of assets that a Grantor (donor) signs over or uses to create a charitable foundation. The assets are held and managed by the charity for a specified period of time, with some or all interest that the assets produce going to the charity.

How do I choose who should be my Trustee?2021-05-25T16:38:57+00:00

It most cases you will be the first Trustee, however, you will want to choose Successor Trustees. This individual should be someone you fully trust and who would handle your financial matters in the same manner as you would yourself. You can also appoint a bank, CPA and/or an attorney if you do not have an individual who can fill this role.

How do I choose who should be Guardian for my children?2021-05-25T16:40:55+00:00

Similar to other personal representatives you will choose in your estate plan which, individual or individuals will serve as Guardian to raise your minor children as you would have done so yourself (i.e. someone who shares your same values, morals and educational standards).

Where should I store my important and original estate planning documents?2021-05-26T18:00:01+00:00

You will want to store these documents in a safe and secure location such as a fire proof home safe. You will want to notify named personal representatives of where to locate these documents when it becomes necessary to utilize same. It is also recommended that you complete our “Personal Records Planner” which will set forth all of your personal information and location of important documents for your personal representative. If you are wanting to store your original documents in a safety deposit box with a bank, keep in mind that your personal representatives will not have access to same unless they are listed as an authorized individual on your account. For more information on estate planning.

Should I give copies or originals of my estate planning documents to my named personal representatives and/or children and heirs?2021-05-26T17:58:36+00:00

It is not recommended that you provide any documentation to others as you may change or amend your estate plan in the future. This will prevent someone from coming forth with an out-of-date estate planning document and attempting to present same when you have, in fact, revoked and/or amended that document. Therefore, it is recommended that you complete our “Personal Records Planner” which will set forth all of your personal information and location of important documents for your personal representative.

If I have a Revocable Living Trust am I required to file a separate tax return for same?2021-05-25T16:51:38+00:00

No, you will still file your tax returns as you have in the past, as this does not change your tax filing situation. For more information on Revocable Trusts.

Do I have to obtain an EIN from the IRS for my Revocable Living Trust?2021-05-25T18:07:23+00:00

Until such time as the Revocable Living Trust becomes fully irrevocable, then you would not need to obtain an EIN for the Trust itself as you will still use your Social Security Number for the Trust during the revocable period. More about Revocable Trusts.

What is probate and how does it work?2021-05-26T00:51:21+00:00

Probate is the legal process for administering a decedent’s estate. In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided. Probate is only necessary if there are assets owned by the deceased in their sole name. However, if the deceased had no assets in their sole name at the time of their death or all assets were payable upon death directly to a beneficiary with the financial institution holding same, then the probate process is not necessary. Probate can occur with or without a Last Will and Testament. If there is a Last Will and Testament, then it is presented to the Court so that it can be validated and recorded. If there is no Last Will and Testament, then the estate will be opened under the intestate succession statute which determines the heirs to the estate. Once the estate is opened by the Probate Court, it must remain open a minimum of six months as required by statute in order to allow anyone who may be a creditor to file a proof of claim against the estate. No distributions can be made to heirs until this time period has lapsed.

I have a Last Will and Testament that says I inherit, why do I need to go before the Probate Court?2021-05-26T00:53:54+00:00

The Last Will and Testament has no power or authority until it has been validated by the Probate Court. Therefore, in order to receive your inheritance it must go through the probate process with the Court. In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided, wherein the Last Will and Testament is presented to the Court. Once the Court validates the Last Will and Testament, the probate process begins.

How long does probate usually take to complete?2021-05-26T01:08:36+00:00

Once the probate process begins with the Probate Court and the Executor or Administrator has been appointed, the estate must remain open for a minimum of six months as required by statute in order to allow anyone who may be a creditor to file a proof of claim against the estate. No distributions can be made to heirs until this time period has lapsed. However, there may be special circumstances that require a probate to remain open past the six month required time period.

How much does probate cost?2021-05-26T17:43:02+00:00

The cost of Probate varies from estate to estate depending on many factors that may arise during the probate process. Cost may include, but not are not limited to, attorney’s fees, court cost, appraisal fees, tax preparers, and other types of necessary professionals that may be required in specific estates. For more information on probate.

If there is a “small estate”, is probate still necessary?2021-05-26T00:56:44+00:00

If the estate is $30,000 or less, and there is no real estate, then either the surviving spouse, surviving child(ren) or a preferred creditor may file a Petition to Dispense with Administration of probate, which bypasses the mandatory six month statutory requirement of a regular probate.

Where is probate handled?2021-05-26T17:40:36+00:00

In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided at the time of their death.

Can I handle probate without a lawyer?2021-05-26T17:11:36+00:00

Yes. However, probate is a heavy statutorily regulated proceeding. One minor omission, one failure to properly notify all heirs, or a missed deadline, can cause you to appear before the Judge and may expose you to possible liability issues. For more information on probate.

What happens when the person who dies owned real estate in multiple states?2021-05-26T17:38:42+00:00

A probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided at the time of death. Additionally, an ancillary probate will have to be opened in every state in which real estate is owned and runs concurrent with the initiating Kentucky probate. Every state has different rules on the administering of ancillary probates.

Who is legally responsible for handling the probate process?2021-05-26T00:59:13+00:00

If there is a Last Will and Testament, the “Executor” named in the Last Will and Testament will be appointed by the Probate Court and be responsible for the fiduciary duties in the probate process. If there is no Last Will and Testament, an “Administrator” is appointed by the Probate Court and they will be responsible for the fiduciary duties in the probate process.

Can there be more than one designated personal representative (Executor or Administrator)?2021-05-26T17:36:55+00:00

Yes, by either being named as Co-Executors in the Last Will and Testament, or the Court appointing Co-Administrators if there was no Last Will and Testament.

Is it necessary for the personal representative to live in the decedent’s state?2021-05-26T17:32:31+00:00

No. If you have been named as the Executor of an estate in the Last Will and Testament, or you will be appointed as the Administrator by the Probate Court if there is no Last Will and Testament, it is not necessary for you to reside in Kentucky.  We work with numerous individuals who do not reside in Kentucky and we can make the process as easy and convenient for you as possible. We can handle most matters, including court appearances, without the need for you to travel to Kentucky.

I have been named as the Executor in a Last Will and Testament, will the probate take place in my state of residence?2021-05-26T17:31:09+00:00

No. The probate will occur in the state where the deceased resided at the time of their death.

What are the main duties of an Executor or Administrator?2021-05-26T01:02:43+00:00

Not all estates are alike and thus can create different responsibilities for an Executor or Administrator. Once the Executor or Administrator has been appointed by the Probate Court, here are a few examples of some of the main responsibilities they can expect: determine if there are any assets in the deceased’s sole name that need to be probated; identify, gather and inventory the assets of the deceased; receive payments owed to the estate, including interest, dividends, and other income; set up an estate checking account from which outstanding debts will be paid and income to the estate will be received; investigate the validity of all claims against the estate; pay funeral bills, outstanding debts, and valid claims; pay the expenses of administrating the estate; handle various paperwork, such as discontinuing utilities and charge cards, and notifying Social Security, Civil Service, and Veterans Administration of the death; file and pay income and estate taxes; sell real estate and personal property owned by the deceased, liquidate any accounts owned by the deceased. This can all be quite convoluted and cumbersome. However, by utilizing the services of an experienced firm such as Stone Legal Group, PLLC you can be properly guided and assisted through this daunting and lengthy process.

If I am named as the Executor in a Last Will and Testament, do I have to serve?2021-05-26T17:29:52+00:00

No, it is always your option to serve or decline. Even if you agree to serve you can resign later. If you decline to serve (or accept and resign later) any alternate named in the Last Will and Testament will then be appointed by the Probate Court. If no alternate representative is named in the Last Will and Testament or the named alternate dies or is unwilling to serve, and no one steps up to serve, the Probate Court will appoint a Public Administrator.

Are Executors and Administrators paid for their work as fiduciary for an estate undergoing the probate process?2021-05-26T17:28:43+00:00

Yes, under statute you are entitled to compensation of 5% of the gross personal property of the estate (this does not include real estate). For more information on probate.

What happens if the Executor or Administrator fails to perform his or her fiduciary duty as required by statute and the Probate Court?2021-05-26T17:26:59+00:00

An Executor or Administrator who is derelict in his or her fiduciary duty would be removed by the Probate Court from that position. In addition, if any dereliction or improper behavior causes an undue financial hardship to the estate, the Executor or Administrator may be personally liable for monetary damages caused to the estate.

What if someone objects to or contests a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-26T17:23:24+00:00

To do so, one must have grounds as provided for by statute to contest same. Examples would be: the Last Will and Testament was fraudulently executed and/or the deceased was under duress, undue influence or incompetent at the time of the execution of the Last Will and Testament. If you are a spouse or child and were left out of the Last Will and Testament, but not specifically mentioned in the document as to why you were purposely left out, then you may have grounds to file a contest.

How can I find out if the deceased individual had a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death?2021-05-26T17:19:59+00:00

Unless you are able to locate the Last Will and Testament yourself, then you will not know if there is a Last Will and Testament until one is presented to the Probate Court by another individual. The Last Will and Testament will be filed in the Kentucky County where the deceased resided at the time of their death. A Last Will and Testament is not filed with the Probate Court until such time as the individual has died and it is presented to the Probate Court so that the probate process can begin. However, if there are no assets owned by the deceased in their sole name at the time of their death or all assets were payable upon death directly to a beneficiary with the financial institution holding same, then the Last Will and Testament will never be presented to the Probate Court as a probate proceeding will not be necessary.

How can I avoid probate?2021-05-26T17:09:49+00:00

One approach to eliminate the need for probate is through the use of a properly funded Revocable Living Trust that holds legal title to your assets at the time of your death. The Trust is a legal entity which survives you after your death.

How are creditors against the estate handled?2021-05-26T17:24:39+00:00

Creditors are put on notice through local publication as part of the probate process. Once the estate has appointed the Executor or Administrator, the creditors then have six months to file any claims against the estate. If the claim is approved by the Executor or Administrator, the bill will be paid by the estate, provided there are sufficient funds from which to pay same. However, if the Executor or Administrator rejects a claim by filing proper notice with the Probate Court, the creditor must sue the estate for payment.

Is it necessary for all of the decedent’s property to go through probate?2021-05-26T17:08:11+00:00

It is not necessary for all of the decedent’s property to go through probate only assets that were in the deceased individual’s sole name (that did not pass by virtue of a designated beneficiary on that account) will be part of the probate.  Examples of some assets that are required to pass through probate are: real estate, bank accounts (checking, savings, money market, certificates of deposit), investments (stocks, mutual funds, annuities), automobiles, boats, RVs, motorcycles, retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA), collections (artwork, coins, stamps and comic books), firearms, furniture, and jewelry.

How are taxes handled in probate?2021-05-26T17:07:33+00:00

The Executor or Administrator may be required to file final personal income tax returns for the deceased. In addition, depending on the heirs receiving under the estate, there may be a requirement for a Kentucky Inheritance Tax Return and possibly a Federal Inheritance Tax Return. For more information on probate.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?2021-05-25T16:06:19+00:00

A Revocable Living Trust is an estate planning option that manages and protects the assets of the individual (grantor) during their lifetime. The Revocable Trust can be amended or revoked as the grantor desires and is included in estate taxes. The Revocable Trust lays out the guidelines of operation for the Trust, what powers the trustee has or does not have, what the beneficiaries are to receive, and how the beneficiaries are to receive the trust property. If properly funded, the Revocable Living Trust bypasses and avoids probate, remains private and becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s death. It also provides you with the ability to customize a plan specific to your circumstances and wishes regarding your legacy. 

What is a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-25T16:18:45+00:00

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates a person’s final wishes pertaining to assets and dependents at the time of their death. A person’s Last Will and Testament outlines who will receive their residuary estate. It also outlines who is in charge of the administration of their estate (Executor). In addition, it can contain provisions for guardians of their minor children.

What happens if I don’t have a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-25T16:20:32+00:00

Without a Last Will and Testament your estate will be distributed in accordance  with the Kentucky intestate succession laws. This means that if you are married, your spouse is 4th in line to inherit after your children, parents and siblings. In addition, if you have minor children, their inheritance will be placed in a blocked account. If your spouse is still living and taking care of your children, they will have to go to Court for permission each time they need to access funds to provide for their health, education and welfare. This will also be the case if your children have a Guardian appointed as both parents are deceased. Furthermore, without a Last Will & Testament you can make no provisions for who will become Guardian of your children. This decision will once again be left up to the Court and may be an individual you would have never chosen.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?2021-05-25T16:21:49+00:00

A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you name an individual or entity to act as your agent and attorney in fact on your behalf should you be unable to do so in the future. A Durable Power of Attorney is not affected in any manner whatsoever by reason of future illness, disability, physical or mental incapacity of any kind or nature and carries on until your death.

What happens if I don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney?2021-05-26T18:03:33+00:00

A Guardian must be appointed by the Court. You will be subjected to an examination by a panel consisting of a physician, psychologist and social worker to determine your competency. The Court will appoint an attorney to represent you – known as a Guardian Ad Litem. This will be in addition to the attorney hired by the individual seeking to become your Guardian. You will then be subjected to a trial before a 6 person jury who will make the final decision as to your competency and who will be your Guardian. All of this is a very lengthy, stressful, possibly humiliating and quite expensive process coming out of your own pocket. For more information on estate planning.

What is a Living Will?2021-05-25T16:29:54+00:00

A Living Will is a legal document in which you have the opportunity to state your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatment and artificially provided nutrition and hydration if or when you no longer have decisional capacity, have a terminal condition, and become permanently unconscious with no hope of recovery as determined by your attending physician and one other physician. A Living Will only takes effect when you are terminally ill and/or in an irreversible state. It becomes your voice in decision making when it comes to your medical care. You can direct that treatment be withheld or withdrawn and that you be allowed to die naturally with only the administration of medication for the relief of pain or the performance of any medical treatment deemed necessary to alleviate pain once you have reached a terminal or irreversible condition. This condition must be determined by your regular treating physician and one other physician. You can direct the withholding or withdrawal of artificially provided food, water or other artificially provided nourishments or fluids if you so desire. The directives you set forth in the Living Will are carried out by a Healthcare Surrogate.

What is a Special Needs Trust?2021-05-25T16:30:59+00:00

A Special Needs Trust is an Irrevocable Trust used when a beneficiary has disabilities (which can be either physical or mental) and receiving government benefits. This type of Irrevocable Trust is used to preserve eligibility for an individual receiving government benefits for programs through the Social Security Administration such as the Supplemental Security Income program or Medicaid benefits. These individuals are likely to have long-term medical or support needs, and the Special Needs Trust can be a solution to supply funding to provide lifetime quality care. Special Needs Trusts are most often used when dealing with an inheritance or personal injury settlement monies. Another feature of a Special Needs Trust is if a beneficiary lacks the legal capacity to handle their own financial affairs, funds can be administered for their benefit and prevent them from squandering or losing assets due to poor judgment or the inability to understand or comprehend their business affairs.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement and a Postnuptial Agreement?2021-05-25T16:32:38+00:00

A Prenuptial Agreement is executed prior to marriage and a Postnuptial Agreement is executed after a marriage takes place. If your family is the result of multiple marriages or prior relationships, a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement can be an effective estate planning tool to ensure that children from different marriages or relationships will be treated in the manner that you wish. With a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement, you can determine what goes to your current spouse and what goes to your children from a prior relationship.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?2021-05-25T16:33:37+00:00

An Irrevocable Trust cannot be altered amended or terminated by the person creating it. Once the assets are transferred into the Trust without retention of any kind of power over the assets, the person creating the Trust can no longer regain ownership of that asset. However, it provides certain benefits that a Revocable Trust cannot. They can be used for estate and tax considerations. The benefit of this type of Trust for estate assets is that it removes all incidents of ownership.  It can be used in conjunction with qualifying for Medicaid.  Irrevocable Trusts can also be useful to individuals who work in professions that may make them vulnerable to lawsuits, such as doctors or attorneys. Once property is transferred into an Irrevocable Trust, it is owned by the Trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries. Therefore, it is safe from legal judgments and creditors, as the Trust will not be a party to any lawsuit. 

What is a Miller Trust?2021-05-25T16:34:52+00:00

A Miller Trust, also called Qualified Income Trusts, is an Irrevocable Trust that provides a way for Medicaid applicants who have income over Medicaid’s limit to become eligible for Medicaid long term care. In short, income over Medicaid’s limit, is put into a Trust and therefore not counted as income, thus allowing the applicant to become eligible.

What is a Medicaid Trust?2021-05-25T16:35:54+00:00

A Medicaid Trust is an Irrevocable Trust that provides a way for Medicaid applicants who have assets over Medicaid’s limit to become eligible for Medicaid long term care. Simply stated, these Trusts protect a Medicaid applicant’s assets from being counted for eligibility purposes. This type of Trust enables someone who would otherwise be ineligible for Medicaid to become Medicaid eligible and receive the care they require at home or in a nursing home. Assets in this type of Trust are no longer considered owned by the Medicaid applicant. Medicaid Trusts also protect assets for one’s children and other relatives

What is a Charitable Needs Trust?2021-05-25T16:36:59+00:00

A Charitable Trust is an Irrevocable Trust consisting of assets that a Grantor (donor) signs over or uses to create a charitable foundation. The assets are held and managed by the charity for a specified period of time, with some or all interest that the assets produce going to the charity.

How do I choose who should be my Trustee?2021-05-25T16:38:57+00:00

It most cases you will be the first Trustee, however, you will want to choose Successor Trustees. This individual should be someone you fully trust and who would handle your financial matters in the same manner as you would yourself. You can also appoint a bank, CPA and/or an attorney if you do not have an individual who can fill this role.

How do I choose who should be Guardian for my children?2021-05-25T16:40:55+00:00

Similar to other personal representatives you will choose in your estate plan which, individual or individuals will serve as Guardian to raise your minor children as you would have done so yourself (i.e. someone who shares your same values, morals and educational standards).

Where should I store my important and original estate planning documents?2021-05-26T18:00:01+00:00

You will want to store these documents in a safe and secure location such as a fire proof home safe. You will want to notify named personal representatives of where to locate these documents when it becomes necessary to utilize same. It is also recommended that you complete our “Personal Records Planner” which will set forth all of your personal information and location of important documents for your personal representative. If you are wanting to store your original documents in a safety deposit box with a bank, keep in mind that your personal representatives will not have access to same unless they are listed as an authorized individual on your account. For more information on estate planning.

Should I give copies or originals of my estate planning documents to my named personal representatives and/or children and heirs?2021-05-26T17:58:36+00:00

It is not recommended that you provide any documentation to others as you may change or amend your estate plan in the future. This will prevent someone from coming forth with an out-of-date estate planning document and attempting to present same when you have, in fact, revoked and/or amended that document. Therefore, it is recommended that you complete our “Personal Records Planner” which will set forth all of your personal information and location of important documents for your personal representative.

If I have a Revocable Living Trust am I required to file a separate tax return for same?2021-05-25T16:51:38+00:00

No, you will still file your tax returns as you have in the past, as this does not change your tax filing situation. For more information on Revocable Trusts.

Do I have to obtain an EIN from the IRS for my Revocable Living Trust?2021-05-25T18:07:23+00:00

Until such time as the Revocable Living Trust becomes fully irrevocable, then you would not need to obtain an EIN for the Trust itself as you will still use your Social Security Number for the Trust during the revocable period. More about Revocable Trusts.

What is probate and how does it work?2021-05-26T00:51:21+00:00

Probate is the legal process for administering a decedent’s estate. In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided. Probate is only necessary if there are assets owned by the deceased in their sole name. However, if the deceased had no assets in their sole name at the time of their death or all assets were payable upon death directly to a beneficiary with the financial institution holding same, then the probate process is not necessary. Probate can occur with or without a Last Will and Testament. If there is a Last Will and Testament, then it is presented to the Court so that it can be validated and recorded. If there is no Last Will and Testament, then the estate will be opened under the intestate succession statute which determines the heirs to the estate. Once the estate is opened by the Probate Court, it must remain open a minimum of six months as required by statute in order to allow anyone who may be a creditor to file a proof of claim against the estate. No distributions can be made to heirs until this time period has lapsed.

I have a Last Will and Testament that says I inherit, why do I need to go before the Probate Court?2021-05-26T00:53:54+00:00

The Last Will and Testament has no power or authority until it has been validated by the Probate Court. Therefore, in order to receive your inheritance it must go through the probate process with the Court. In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided, wherein the Last Will and Testament is presented to the Court. Once the Court validates the Last Will and Testament, the probate process begins.

How long does probate usually take to complete?2021-05-26T01:08:36+00:00

Once the probate process begins with the Probate Court and the Executor or Administrator has been appointed, the estate must remain open for a minimum of six months as required by statute in order to allow anyone who may be a creditor to file a proof of claim against the estate. No distributions can be made to heirs until this time period has lapsed. However, there may be special circumstances that require a probate to remain open past the six month required time period.

How much does probate cost?2021-05-26T17:43:02+00:00

The cost of Probate varies from estate to estate depending on many factors that may arise during the probate process. Cost may include, but not are not limited to, attorney’s fees, court cost, appraisal fees, tax preparers, and other types of necessary professionals that may be required in specific estates. For more information on probate.

If there is a “small estate”, is probate still necessary?2021-05-26T00:56:44+00:00

If the estate is $30,000 or less, and there is no real estate, then either the surviving spouse, surviving child(ren) or a preferred creditor may file a Petition to Dispense with Administration of probate, which bypasses the mandatory six month statutory requirement of a regular probate.

Where is probate handled?2021-05-26T17:40:36+00:00

In Kentucky, a probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided at the time of their death.

Can I handle probate without a lawyer?2021-05-26T17:11:36+00:00

Yes. However, probate is a heavy statutorily regulated proceeding. One minor omission, one failure to properly notify all heirs, or a missed deadline, can cause you to appear before the Judge and may expose you to possible liability issues. For more information on probate.

What happens when the person who dies owned real estate in multiple states?2021-05-26T17:38:42+00:00

A probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the County where the deceased resided at the time of death. Additionally, an ancillary probate will have to be opened in every state in which real estate is owned and runs concurrent with the initiating Kentucky probate. Every state has different rules on the administering of ancillary probates.

Who is legally responsible for handling the probate process?2021-05-26T00:59:13+00:00

If there is a Last Will and Testament, the “Executor” named in the Last Will and Testament will be appointed by the Probate Court and be responsible for the fiduciary duties in the probate process. If there is no Last Will and Testament, an “Administrator” is appointed by the Probate Court and they will be responsible for the fiduciary duties in the probate process.

Can there be more than one designated personal representative (Executor or Administrator)?2021-05-26T17:36:55+00:00

Yes, by either being named as Co-Executors in the Last Will and Testament, or the Court appointing Co-Administrators if there was no Last Will and Testament.

Is it necessary for the personal representative to live in the decedent’s state?2021-05-26T17:32:31+00:00

No. If you have been named as the Executor of an estate in the Last Will and Testament, or you will be appointed as the Administrator by the Probate Court if there is no Last Will and Testament, it is not necessary for you to reside in Kentucky.  We work with numerous individuals who do not reside in Kentucky and we can make the process as easy and convenient for you as possible. We can handle most matters, including court appearances, without the need for you to travel to Kentucky.

I have been named as the Executor in a Last Will and Testament, will the probate take place in my state of residence?2021-05-26T17:31:09+00:00

No. The probate will occur in the state where the deceased resided at the time of their death.

What are the main duties of an Executor or Administrator?2021-05-26T01:02:43+00:00

Not all estates are alike and thus can create different responsibilities for an Executor or Administrator. Once the Executor or Administrator has been appointed by the Probate Court, here are a few examples of some of the main responsibilities they can expect: determine if there are any assets in the deceased’s sole name that need to be probated; identify, gather and inventory the assets of the deceased; receive payments owed to the estate, including interest, dividends, and other income; set up an estate checking account from which outstanding debts will be paid and income to the estate will be received; investigate the validity of all claims against the estate; pay funeral bills, outstanding debts, and valid claims; pay the expenses of administrating the estate; handle various paperwork, such as discontinuing utilities and charge cards, and notifying Social Security, Civil Service, and Veterans Administration of the death; file and pay income and estate taxes; sell real estate and personal property owned by the deceased, liquidate any accounts owned by the deceased. This can all be quite convoluted and cumbersome. However, by utilizing the services of an experienced firm such as Stone Legal Group, PLLC you can be properly guided and assisted through this daunting and lengthy process.

If I am named as the Executor in a Last Will and Testament, do I have to serve?2021-05-26T17:29:52+00:00

No, it is always your option to serve or decline. Even if you agree to serve you can resign later. If you decline to serve (or accept and resign later) any alternate named in the Last Will and Testament will then be appointed by the Probate Court. If no alternate representative is named in the Last Will and Testament or the named alternate dies or is unwilling to serve, and no one steps up to serve, the Probate Court will appoint a Public Administrator.

Are Executors and Administrators paid for their work as fiduciary for an estate undergoing the probate process?2021-05-26T17:28:43+00:00

Yes, under statute you are entitled to compensation of 5% of the gross personal property of the estate (this does not include real estate). For more information on probate.

What happens if the Executor or Administrator fails to perform his or her fiduciary duty as required by statute and the Probate Court?2021-05-26T17:26:59+00:00

An Executor or Administrator who is derelict in his or her fiduciary duty would be removed by the Probate Court from that position. In addition, if any dereliction or improper behavior causes an undue financial hardship to the estate, the Executor or Administrator may be personally liable for monetary damages caused to the estate.

What if someone objects to or contests a Last Will and Testament?2021-05-26T17:23:24+00:00

To do so, one must have grounds as provided for by statute to contest same. Examples would be: the Last Will and Testament was fraudulently executed and/or the deceased was under duress, undue influence or incompetent at the time of the execution of the Last Will and Testament. If you are a spouse or child and were left out of the Last Will and Testament, but not specifically mentioned in the document as to why you were purposely left out, then you may have grounds to file a contest.

How can I find out if the deceased individual had a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death?2021-05-26T17:19:59+00:00

Unless you are able to locate the Last Will and Testament yourself, then you will not know if there is a Last Will and Testament until one is presented to the Probate Court by another individual. The Last Will and Testament will be filed in the Kentucky County where the deceased resided at the time of their death. A Last Will and Testament is not filed with the Probate Court until such time as the individual has died and it is presented to the Probate Court so that the probate process can begin. However, if there are no assets owned by the deceased in their sole name at the time of their death or all assets were payable upon death directly to a beneficiary with the financial institution holding same, then the Last Will and Testament will never be presented to the Probate Court as a probate proceeding will not be necessary.

How can I avoid probate?2021-05-26T17:09:49+00:00

One approach to eliminate the need for probate is through the use of a properly funded Revocable Living Trust that holds legal title to your assets at the time of your death. The Trust is a legal entity which survives you after your death.

How are creditors against the estate handled?2021-05-26T17:24:39+00:00

Creditors are put on notice through local publication as part of the probate process. Once the estate has appointed the Executor or Administrator, the creditors then have six months to file any claims against the estate. If the claim is approved by the Executor or Administrator, the bill will be paid by the estate, provided there are sufficient funds from which to pay same. However, if the Executor or Administrator rejects a claim by filing proper notice with the Probate Court, the creditor must sue the estate for payment.

Is it necessary for all of the decedent’s property to go through probate?2021-05-26T17:08:11+00:00

It is not necessary for all of the decedent’s property to go through probate only assets that were in the deceased individual’s sole name (that did not pass by virtue of a designated beneficiary on that account) will be part of the probate.  Examples of some assets that are required to pass through probate are: real estate, bank accounts (checking, savings, money market, certificates of deposit), investments (stocks, mutual funds, annuities), automobiles, boats, RVs, motorcycles, retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b), IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA), collections (artwork, coins, stamps and comic books), firearms, furniture, and jewelry.

How are taxes handled in probate?2021-05-26T17:07:33+00:00

The Executor or Administrator may be required to file final personal income tax returns for the deceased. In addition, depending on the heirs receiving under the estate, there may be a requirement for a Kentucky Inheritance Tax Return and possibly a Federal Inheritance Tax Return. For more information on probate.

The information on this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.

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