Meet Retired Probate Judge David Holton

Meet Retired Probate Judge David Holton

Episode 1:  We’re proud to launch the first episode of David’s podcast focusing on probate and estate planning issues.  We’ll begin to discuss some basic ideas related to this topic, about half-way through this episode.  However, to begin, let’s introduce you to retired probate judge David Holton.  He was Kentucky’s first blind judge and now he continues his private practice.

He grew up in the Valley Station and Pleasure Ridge Park area of Louisville.  A proud alumnus of Morehead State University, David earned his law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1988.  He returned to Louisville after graduating. He was hired as a Jefferson County prosecutor and also ran his private law practice for 19 years. 

Even in the early years, David worked on Wills, probate issues and estate matters.  After 19 years, he received an appointment to the bench (2009) and began serving as a judge in Jefferson County.  He served in that capacity for the next 10 years.  At that point, he decided to return to private practice.  The perspective he learned as a probate judge made him a better probate attorney.

David takes time to explain some of his judicial experiences.  He spends significant time discussing how he approached dealing with juveniles in his courtroom.  He’s been breaking new ground for Kentucky for quite some time.

As a prosecutor, David really began to understand the impact of mental health issues on our community. 

Helping Louisville Individuals and Families with Probate Issues

David lost his mother 14 months ago and his father 36 months ago (as of the date of this recording).  He combines that personal experience, along with the perspective he gained as a judge to really understand what his clients are going through, when they contact him.

What Is Probate?

David explains Probate is how a person’s assets are distributed after they die.  Legally, a person either dies with a Will (“testate”) or without a Will (“intestate”).  If you don’t a have a Will, the laws of Kentucky will determine how the assets will be distributed and to whom. 

If you die without a Will, in Kentucky, your spouse will typically receive 50% of your assets and your children will have rights to the other 50%.  This applies to assets titled only in the name of the person who passed.

What if Our Assets Are Held Jointly?

In Kentucky, many assets including a house are typically owned jointly.  The names of both spouses are on the deed.  At time of one spouse’s death, the jointly-owned assets are automatically transferred in full to the surviving spouse.  It’s important to verify that your deed contains the phrase, “joint tenancy with right of survivorship.”  David points out that when the assets pass to the spouse, the debts do as well.

Avoiding Family Disputes – It Doesn’t Have to be That Way

As a judge, David saw many times where families fought and destroyed relationships over the property of the deceased family member.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  A properly crafted Will and possibly a Trust could help to avoid those terrible situations.  That’s how David can help you, today.

What Is an Estate?

Everyone has an estate.  It may be very small, or it could be enormous, but it exists the moment you die.  Your Will or the laws of Kentucky will determine how the assets in your estate will be distributed. 

The estate is the entirety of all assets and debts.  It’s everything the person owns, including money in bank accounts, cars, personal property, real estate, debts, etc.

Advantage of Having a Will

David can draft an inexpensive Will detailing how you want specific items in your estate to be distributed to your spouse, children and other heirs.  Those decisions won’t be left up to a probate judge who’s never met you or your family.  His/her actions would be dictated by the laws of Kentucky, not your wishes that never got collected as part of a legal Will.

Consider Setting up a Trust for Assets Going to Minors

By setting up a trust, the money, investments and other assets can be protected and preserved forspecific people, often including a minor(s).  You may want the money to be used for college, a down-payment on a home, etc.  The trust will be funded from the assets in your estate and then be assured they will be distributed according to your wishes.

What is an Executor?

A properly executed Will should appoint someone to carry out the wishes expressed in the Will.  If that person is a mail, he is the Executor.  If that person is a female, she is the Executrix. 

What is a Self-Proving Will?

In Kentucky, a Will that is signed by the person for whom the Will is written (i.e. the Testator or Testatrix), also signed by two witnesses and notarized, this is referred to as a Self-Proving Will.  This is important because the document itself proves it was legally executed. 

If someone dies without having the other signatures or having it notarized, the court would need to track down any witnesses to determine the Will’s legitimacy.  This can add extensive delays and costs to the probate process.

Check out The Blind Judge Podcast!

Retired Probate Judge David Holton actually has 2 podcasts.  In addition to this one focusing on legal matters, his other podcast will focus on community issues, sports, cooking, outdoor activities, politics, history and a variety of other topics, including information about David’s guide dog Coach.

As we conclude Episode 1, we encourage you to connect with Davidon his Facebook page.  You’ll also be able to subscribe to this podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible and many other podcast platforms.  

David closes with this thought: “God’s been good to me.  I want to give back and return the favor to his listeners and their families.”  David’s entire career has been about service to our Louisville and Jefferson County community.

For more information about probate and estate planning issues, or to listen to The Blind Judge Podcast, visit

Thanks for listening!  Please share this episode with your friends and family.

Disclaimer:  This podcast is for informational purposes only.  This does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  Your situation is unique.  Please consult an experienced attorney to discuss your situation.  This is an advertisement.  Principal Office located at 5226 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY 40291.  Office phone number:  (502) 933-8600.

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