Should You Have A Will? This Louisville Will Lawyer Recommends One
If you die without a will, under Kentucky intestacy laws your assets and property (collectively called “estate”) go to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither, then your estate goes to your grandchildren or your parents, and so on with increasingly distant relatives. But if no living relative can be found, then all your assets and property go to the state.
It is noted that Kentucky has a “dower and curtesy” law (KRS 392.020) that only gives a portion of the deceased husband’s estate to the surviving wife if the husband died without a will (intestate). By preparing a will, you can make sure your estate is distributed as you decide and not as the state decides. With a Louisville will lawyer, you can make sure your loved ones receive what you want to give to them.
What Is A Will?
A will, also called a “last will and testament,” is a legal document that you, the testator, create that assigns and distributes your estate in accordance to your wishes after you die. Your estate could include real property, such as land or residence, and personal property, such as bank accounts, cash, jewelry, stocks, bonds, antiques, paintings, electronics, vehicles, timeshare, etc. However, wills have other purposes aside from merely distributing your estate.
What Can A Will Do?
You can use your will to:
- Leave your estate or portions of your estate to people or organizations such as charities;
- Name a personal guardian for your minor children or other dependents;
- Name a trusted person to manage the property you left to your minor children or other dependents;
- Name an executor who will assure that the terms in your will are carried out.
Are There Exceptions?
There are notable exceptions or limitations to your ability to distribute property:
- You cannot distribute real property that is co-owned (joint tenancy) with a right of survivorship, which will automatically pass onto the surviving owner.
- A will cannot change the beneficiary in a life insurance policy.
- You cannot disinherit your surviving spouse. If your will does not provide anything to your spouse, pursuant to the “dower and curtesy” law, the surviving spouse can renounce the will and take the interest provided by law in KRS 392.080.
What Are The Requirements?
Kentucky requires the following for the will to be valid:
- Age: You must be at least 18 years old;
- Capacity: You must be of sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions);
- Document: The will must state it is a will and must be in writing;
- Signature: You must sign the will or, if you are unable to do so, direct someone else to sign the will on your behalf and in your presence;
- Witnesses: Your signature (or your representative’s signature) must be witnessed by at least two people who do not have a direct interest in the will; and,
- Witnesses’ signatures: These witnesses must sign the will in your and each other’s presence.
What Should I Do Now?
As an experienced Louisville will lawyer, I can help you develop:
- List of beneficiaries (people or organizations you want to give your property to)
- List of your assets
- List of your properties
- List of your dependents (e.g. children or incompetent adults you have been caring for)
- How you wish to distribute or proportion your estate
- Any other relevant instructions
I will counsel you on the benefits, risks and consequences of the terms of your will and provide you with a clear understanding of how it will ensure your wishes are carried out.
If you need help drafting a will or need someone with expertise and knowledge to review your will, then contact me at (502) 561-3455 or by completing the form on this website.