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What Happens When You Don’t Have a Will?

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The laws vary from state to state about who receives what property in the event that a deceased person did not have a will or other formal plan, and Kentucky is no exception to this. While not having a will might not be that important, especially if you are going to use a living trust, that isn’t the case for everyone. Those who pass away without a specific plan laid out will have their property distributed according to the state laws of “intestate succession.” Regardless of whether or not you care about your property, you may want a will for other reasons, such as naming guardians for children or an executor.

State Law Decides

Those in Kentucky who pass away without a will can expect their assets to go to their closest relatives. Plus, only assets that can be passed through a will would be subject to intestate succession laws. Usually, this only includes items that are owned alone and in your name. So, for example, if you have a spouse you co-own a home with, and siblings, but no parents or dependents, then your spouse keeps the home. The rest of your assets would be divided equally between your spouse and your siblings.

If you want to know more about Kentucky laws specifically, reach out to us!

The State Could Get Your Property

The good news is, it probably won’t…but it could. When a probate court follows the laws of intestacy, but there are no living relatives to take the property, it goes into the state’s coffers. However, this isn’t very common. Even those without close living relatives usually have some distant relative or cousin to give your property to before it goes to the state. So while this likely won’t happen, if you want any say in where your assets will go when you die, you need an estate plan.

Choosing Options Other than a Will

A good estate plan is going to have a will and other tools. You can set up a living trust, pay on death accounts, beneficiary designations, joint ownership, and transfer on death deeds. Each of these tools doesn’t have to go through probate, either. That’s why it’s always beneficial to meet with an estate planning attorney to ensure that everything is laid out.

A Will and a Trust

Even those who transfer their property through a living trust should consider still having a backup will. This is to ensure that any property that isn’t passed to beneficiaries the other ways will still go where you want it to. Otherwise, it defaults again to intestacy laws. And, even if you don’t want to use your will to transfer property, you can use it to name an executor to wrap up your estate, name a personal guardian for your kids, and assign property guardians to manage your children’s property.

Community Property

Some states are considered community property states where the laws guiding what happens to your property after you pass away are drastically different. In community property states, you and your spouse are thought to equally share everything you have acquired during your marriage. This means that your spouse inherits your half of the community property.

Smith Law

When it comes to planning your will, there are quite a few laws and hurdles to navigate. If you want to ensure that you care for your spouse, dependents, and whoever else when you pass away, it’s crucial to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact our team today to learn more and let us know how we can help you! We proudly serve Covington and the surrounding areas. Reach out now to schedule your consultation.

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