Skip to main content

My father died without a will & his widow, my step-mom is avoiding probate. What are my options? Please Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ashland, KY |

I have done my share of homework on Kentucky intestacy laws.My problem is I can not afford an attorney & statute of limitation to claim rights to the estate (3 yrs) is only 5 mos. away. The surviving spouse,my step-mom, claims my father didn't leave anything to us but sensing something wasn't right I obtained a copy of my fathers deed (property valued 300K) which I showed to my attorney freind here in another state & was told No Rights of Survivorship. Which meant I was entitled to a rather large share of the property. Since she is avoiding probate what are my options? Remember I can not afford an attorney? Can I send a letter to her demanding a portion of the estate? As angry as I am over this I still do not want her to lose the house. Thank you!!!!!!!!

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

In Kentucky, an heir at law (which includes a child) can initiate an estate administration proceeding. An attorney is not required (although the process usually proceeds much more smoothly when the heir is represented by an attorney.) The forms to petition the District Court for appointment as the personal representative of the estate are available online at You can contact the District Court Clerk of the county in which your father resided to determine when and how the Judge handles estate proceedings. You can seek appointment as the Administrator of the estate. Notice of your petition for appointment would have to be given to your step-mother. Once you are appointed, you would have the authority to search for other assets of the estate.

It is important to distinguish between probate and non-probate assets. Any assets your father owned in survivorship with his wife or any other person would be non-probate assets that would pass directly to the surviving owner. Assets with a beneficiary designation such as life insurance and retirement plans are also non-probate assets unless the estate is made the beneficiary. Those assets pass directly to the named beneficiary. Real estate is a non-probate asset unless the sale of the real estate is required to pay debts of the estate. When there is no will and the real estate does not have to be sold, an affidavit of descent is filed with the County Court Clerk to pass the title to the real estate.

When a Kentucky resident dies without a Will, the surviving spouse gets half the real estate owned by the decedent at the time of death and half the personal property in the probate estate after the debts are paid. If your father and his wife owned the home as tenants in common (no survivorship), she would own her half plus half of his half of the property. The remaining one-fourth would be divided amoung the children (including the descendants of any deceased child.)

Many of the local bar associations in Kentucky have a lawyer referral service. These services will refer you to an attorney who does estate administrations. Often the initial consultation is done at a significantly reduced fee. I urge you to check for one of these services in the county where your father lived. The attorney to whom you are referred could explain the specific estate administration process in that county to you and give you some idea of what your next steps should be.


I'm sorry about your situation. You could certainly send a letter to your stepmother, or you could start probate proceedings yourself. There are standard forms to file, usually available online, to commence probate. She doesn't have an option as to whether or not to allow a probate of the estate.

If the property was not in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, it would not be able to be transferred, during stepmom's life or after her death, without getting a signature from someone with the legal authority to sign on behalf of your dad's estate (a personal representative appointed by the court).

All the best,


I hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below. Thank you!

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Without money you are left with little options. You may want to consider contacting the Kentucky bar association. They may have a program for people like yourself who can not afford legal counsel or they may know of a program in the county where your father was domiciled at his death.

Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below and/or designate my answer as best answer. Thanks.
Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties and services clients in all parts of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at 215-735-2336 or at the email address listed below. He has received a 10.0 rating from AVVO and recently was featured as a 5Star Wealth Manager in the Philadelphia Magazine, November 2009 issue on page 123.
Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question.
Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer