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Without a Will

If you die as a resident of Kentucky without a Last Will and Testament, your assets will go to your closest relatives under Kentucky’s intestate succession laws.

In Kentucky, an intestate probate proceeding takes place in the District Court located in the county where the deceased resided. No one has power or authority to handle any estate assets until an Administrator has been appointed by the Probate Court. Normally an heir to the estate under intestate succession law would ask the Probate Court to be appointed as the Administrator. Once probate begins, the estate must remain open for a minimum of six months under Kentucky law before any distributions to heirs can take place. This period of time is required in order to allow anyone who may be a creditor to file a proof of claim against the estate. All assets in the deceased individual’s sole name will be part of the probate. 

Distribution of assets under Kentucky’s intestate succession law provides that when a person dies without a Last Will and Testament, one-half of the residual estate (after funeral expenses, taxes, debts, and cost of administration are paid) goes to the surviving spouse, if applicable, and one-half (or all if no spouse) gets distributed as the follows:

1. To the deceased’s children. If any of these children predecease, then their share will go to their children; if there are no children or grandchildren, then

2. To the deceased’s father and mother; if one is deceased, solely to the surviving parent; if there is no father and mother, then

3. To the deceased’s brothers and sisters. If any of the brothers or sisters predecease then their share will go to their children; (half-sister and half-brothers and their descendants inherit only one-half as much as those of the whole blood); if there are no siblings, then

4. To the deceased’s spouse; if no spouse, then

5. One share shall pass to the paternal and the other to the maternal kindred in the following order:

  • The grandfather and grandmother equally, if one is deceased, it shall go to the survivor; if both deceased, then
  • To the uncles and aunts and their descendants; if there are none, then
  • To the great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers; if none, then
  • To the brothers and sisters of the grandfathers and grandmothers; and finally, 

6. If there is no kindred to one either the paternal or maternal side of the deceased’s family as described in paragraph (5), the whole descends to other side. If there is neither paternal or maternal kindred, the whole descends to the kindred of the spouse, if applicable.

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
  • Jewelry


If you are seeking to be appointed as the Administrator of an estate for a deceased individual who resided in Kentucky, but you do not reside in Kentucky, you need to have a knowledgeable and experienced legal team like Stone Legal Group, PLLC who can make the process easy and convenient for you. We can handle most matters, including court appearances, without the need for you to travel to Kentucky. We have vast experience working with out-of-state clients in probate matters and have streamlined the process.

There are many steps required at the local, state and possibly federal level that must be completed timely in order to properly settle one’s estate and distribute the assets according to the deceased’s wishes in their Last Will and Testament. Unfortunately, at some point in your life you will probably deal with the death of a spouse, family member, significant other, or friend that may have an estate that will need to be administered. Stone Legal Group, PLLC’s goal is to make the probate administration process as stress free as possible, no matter what the circumstances.