Probates and Wills

Louisville Will Lawyer Discusses Myths About Probates and Wills

Louisville Will Lawyer Close up of a brown gavelWhen it comes to the laws regarding wills, trusts, and probate, our best choice to find answers is to speak to a Louisville will lawyer. There are many different urban legends associated with this subject matter, and it is very important to clarify your questions with someone who understands the law. No one likes to discuss wills or probate, but it is a part of life we all must deal with at some time. Because this is a subject matter that makes many people feel uncomfortable, a Louisville will lawyer has answered some of the most common questions regarding this area of law.

Does the State Inherit Everything If Someone Dies Without a Will?

Every state has specific laws governing wills and inheritances. If a person dies intestate, or without a will, state law will determine who will inherit the assets of the deceased. In most cases, the assets of the deceased are inherited by the spouse and by any minor children. Some states will split the assets equally between these parties while others will give the spouse 50 percent and split the other 50 percent between the minor children. You would need to clarify what the laws are with your Louisville will lawyer for your area. In the event that the person who dies does not have a spouse or minor children, the state will have established a “relationship chain” that must be followed to disburse the assets of the deceased. This will most likely go to grown children, siblings, and/or parents first. Distant relatives will be considered next if there is no immediate family available. In the event that there are not any relatives found, the state will act upon a law known as Escheat. Most people have never heard of this law because it is so rarely used. This is the only time that the state will take possession of an estate because no relatives can be found. Even though there are laws in place protecting personal assets from being assumed by the state, it is very important to speak to a Louisville will lawyer about creating your own will. Having a will prepared ensures that the assets you are leaving are received by the people that you want to have them.

Doesn’t Probating an Estate Take Years to Complete?

In most cases, probating an estate takes less than a year to complete. Each state will have specific laws regarding the grace period necessary before finalizing an estate. This grace period is used to give time to creditors to file any claims against the estate and ensure that they are paid before any inheritances are distributed. Additionally, any taxes that are owed on the state must be paid before disbursements are given. Your Louisville will lawyer can tell you the grace period for your state. The only exceptions to these rules are as follows:

  • Contesting the Will. If someone is contesting the will, the negotiations and possible court date may delay finalization of the will.
  • Large Estates. Very large estates may be delayed for more than a year due to the federal taxes that are due on the estate. However, less than five percent of all estates in the country fall into this category.
  • Ongoing Income. Large estates that continue to generate income after the death of the person, such as with a celebrity, may take longer to settle than a normal estate.

Probate Costs Usually Use Up All of the Value of the Estate, Right?

There are many fabulous rumors circulating about how probate costs will eat up the value of the estate, and there is nothing left to inherit. While this may have happened somewhere at some time, it is not common at all. In fact, the average cost of probate is about 5 percent of the value of the estate. Speaking to a Louisville will lawyer will help you understand the actual costs of probate based on your estate. In most cases, the cost of probate will include filing and publishing fees, possibly some court fees and attorney fees. If the estate is small, some alternative filing methods can be used that will save the estate even more money. The only time that probate costs can become very excessive is if:

  • The will is being contested by anyone. This can lead to excessive costs relating to discovery, attorney fees, and court costs.
  • High attorney fee state. There are some states that allow attorneys to charge a percentage of the value of the entire estate instead of charging an hourly or flat rate. If you live in one of these states, it is very important to shop around for an attorney to keep costs low.

Do I Have to Leave Assets to My Spouse?

It is not uncommon in married couples who are remarried to worry about providing an inheritance for their children from a previous marriage. These couples may decide to leave everything to their children because they keep their assets separate from their current spouse. While this is perfectly legal, it should be taken into consideration that after the death of a spouse, the situation can change. According to most state laws, the spouse is entitled to a portion of the assets of the estate because they are the surviving spouse. While the state cannot force a spouse to accept an inheritance, they can force an executor of a will to provide for the spouse if the surviving spouse changes their mind about not accepting an inheritance. So, if the surviving spouse decides that they want their fair share of the assets of the deceased, the state will enforce the law and allow them to get up to the maximum amount allowed under the state law. This is called “going against the will” and is legal in all states. Speak to your Louisville will attorney about the specific laws in your area regarding this type of action. If a couple decides that they are not going to leave an inheritance to each other, this information should be included in the will and in a separate contract so that if the surviving spouse contests, the contract will be enforced.

As the Oldest Child, I Am Entitled to Be the Executor of My Parents’ Will

It is a common error to believe that the oldest child is automatically appointed as the executor of the estate. The person who composes the will has the right to select anyone that they believe will uphold their wishes after they depart. An executor can be a family member, a friend, a relative, or even an attorney. It is very important that the person chosen for the position of executor is trustworthy and reliable. In most cases, the only reason the court will change an executor is if they have been convicted of a crime, are incarcerated, or they are physically unable to perform the duties. The state will only appoint an executor if there are problems with the appointed person or if there is legal action taking place against the executor. Speak with your Louisville will lawyer about your decision for executor and make sure a secondary person is chosen.

Speak to a Louisville Will Lawyer Today About Your Will

Even though creating a will, trust or discussing probate can make you feel uncomfortable, it is important that you speak to an attorney about these very important matters. The Patricia A. Abell Law Office provides all of these important services for estates of all sizes. The law firm can be contacted at 502.561.3455 for a confidential appointment. Because this subject matter can be very stressful for many clients, all of our attorneys will show extraordinary compassion and understanding during the appointments. You do not have to allow someone else to make the decisions about your assets after you are gone, speak to a Louisville will lawyer today.




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Patricia Abell's Law office is located in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. My office serves clients living in the Kentucky counties of Breckinridge, Bullitt, Hardin, Jefferson, Larue, Marion, Meade, Nelson, Oldham, Spencer and Washington, This includes the cities of Cloverport, Hardinsburg, Irvington, Fox Chase, Hebron Estates, Hillview, Lebanon Junction, Mount Washington, Pioneer Village, Shepherdsville, Elizabethtown, Radcliff, Sonora, Upton, Vine Grove, West Point, Anchorage, Audubon Park, Buechel, Goose Creek, Hurstbourne, Jeffersontown, Okolona, Prospect, Hodgenville, Bradfordsville, Lebanon, Loretto, Raywick, Brandenburg, Ekron, Muldraugh, Bardstown, Bloomfield, Fairfield, New Haven, Crestwood, Goshen, Lagrange, Pewee Valley, Taylorsville, Elk Creek, Mount Eden, Springfield.