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Northern Kentucky Estate Planning Lawyers
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What happens in the event we die or become incapacitated? It isn’t something any of us really want to think about, but it is a reality, and it’s important to have the documents in place to make our wishes legally binding. Estate planning offers a variety of ways to protect our wishes and the best interests of those we may leave behind and at Smith Law, an estate planning attorney in Northern Kentucky at our firm is here for you.
What does an estate planning attorney do?
While many people think estate planning begins and ends with a simple last will and testament, this is not the case. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning will draft living trusts, help you navigate estate taxes, and help you allocate your life’s savings to people you care about—not your beneficiaries’ creditors. Many people neglect the fact that it’s possible to become mentally incapacitated without actually passing away, and you can plan ahead for that as well with an estate planning attorney. They can help figure out your health care directives and who will make decisions on your behalf, should you need them to.
Contact Smith Law
We want Covington residents to feel a peace of mind as they move through life knowing that their loved ones will be taken care of when they are gone. If you would like to feel that comfort for yourself, it’s time to call Smith Law. We look forward to helping you prepare for the future with full knowledge and understanding of Kentucky’s laws. Reach out now and schedule your consultation!
What is a Will?
A person’s last will and testament is the most basic part of estate planning. This is where someone can designate who should get their assets, and in what quantity, after death.
Kentucky Inheritance Laws If There is No Will
When a person dies without a will, then all the assets go into the intestacy process. Assets will still go to close family members, but they will follow a rigid formula that may not be at all reflective of what the deceased would have wanted. In the state of Kentucky, for example, a surviving spouse inherits half of everything, with the remaining half going to children, parents, and siblings.
Furthermore, the intestacy process takes time, and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries can be delayed. A last will and testament allows both the person writing the will to exercise precise control over how their property will be passed on, and can help speed up the process for beneficiaries to collect.
Can I Avoid Probate With a Will?
A will, by itself, will not allow the beneficiaries to avoid going through probate court. The way to avoid probate is to set up a living trust. Trusts can serve a variety of interests, even beyond the benefit of staying out of probate court.
How Long Does Probate Take in Kentucky?
Probate proceedings in Kentucky involve the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased individual. Understanding the timeline for probate is crucial for beneficiaries and heirs eager to receive their inheritances. According to Kentucky statute 395.190, the distribution of the decedent's estate by the personal representative can commence six months after qualification. This essentially means that probate must be open for at least six months.
The probate process begins with the qualification of the personal representative, who is appointed to manage and distribute the deceased's assets. After this initial step, the representative embarks on the intricate journey of settling the estate, which includes identifying and appraising assets, paying debts and taxes, and ultimately distributing the remaining assets among the beneficiaries.
The provision in Kentucky statute 395.190 serves as a guideline for the timeframe within which the personal representative is permitted to start the distribution process. It's important to note that this is not a strict deadline but rather a minimum waiting period. Complex estates or unforeseen challenges during the probate process may extend the overall duration.
Beneficiaries and heirs should be prepared for the possibility of a lengthier probate process if complications arise. Factors such as disputes over the validity of the will, contested claims from creditors, or the need for further investigation into the assets of the estate can contribute to delays.
Moreover, the efficiency of the probate process is influenced by the diligence and organization of the personal representative. Timely completion of required tasks, accurate record-keeping, and effective communication with all involved parties can expedite the distribution of the estate.
What is a Living Trust?
A living trust can allow someone’s inheritance to be distributed incrementally, or at threshold moments in their life. Trusts can protect assets from creditors and from legal action.
How much do estate plans cost?
Usually, a good estate plan is going to have some hefty legal fees. This is because it will be held and updated by someone who specializes in this area of the law. You are paying for the expertise and professionalism that an attorney can provide. The old adage still rings true: you get what you pay for. If a fee seems too good to be true, it likely is. Think about what your estate is actually worth. You might stand to lose much more money in the long run than the upfront cost of paying for a quality attorney now. For example, sometimes a difficult probate process follows when a loved one dies. These legal fees could leave your family wishing you would have figured this all out ahead of time. Give yourself the peace of mind that comes with a clear estate plan and reach out to an attorney who can help.
Do I need an estate planning attorney?
In the end, this is up to you—but there are some things to consider. The state law dictates what can and cannot happen in a will or trust, so without fully understanding the law on your own, you are gambling with what could happen to your assets. Some people are not allowed to be your personal representative, trustee, health care surrogate, and more. For example, in the state of Florida, a personal representative must be related to you by either marriage or blood. When these people choose a friend to handle the issue, they are not legally allowed to serve. By working with an attorney, you are much less likely to face issues like this.
If you have a complex financial or family situation, a lawyer can surely guide you through this and help ensure that everything is smooth. For example, anyone in a second marriage, business owners, those with minor children, and so on should call an attorney for help.
Call an Estate Planning Attorney in Northern Kentucky Today
Smith Law’s founding partner, Attorney Shannon C. Smith, has earned the designation of Certified Estate & Trust Specialist, an honor accorded to just 1% of estate planning lawyers. She is more than prepared to help with your KY estate planning.
Parents of minor children have to think about how they want to take care of their kids in the event something should happen. If this is not spelled out in a guardianship plan, then the state will make the decision based on family relationships.
The results can be something the parents would not have wanted. Moreover, there is at least the possibility that children could be temporarily placed in foster care while guardianship issues are worked out. Our Northern Kentucky estate planning attorneys can help avoid this outcome by working with parents to make sure their wishes are expressly known and legally binding.
Contact an award-winning estate planning attorney in Northern Kentucky at Smith Law via phone at (859) 710-9001 or by filling out our form.
What happens to someone if they lose the mental capacity to make decisions? Their healthcare still has to be managed, as do their financial affairs. To do either of these on someone else’s behalf requires legal authority. That authority is called power of attorney.
It’s important for people to choose someone they have confidence in. Even in families that are close, there are often differing ideas over how important decisions on end-of-life medical care should be handled. People need to know the person acting on their behalf shares their values and convictions. They also need to know that someone reliable will be handling their finances. The responsibilities of medical and financial power of attorney can go to the same person, or they can go to different people. What’s most important is that they go to people that the person granting the authority has confidence in.
We offer estate planning packages that include everything from your will, living will, powers of attorney, trusts, and for those of you with minor children, a kids' protection plan.
At Smith Law, you’ll get personalized service, from hands-on Northern Kentucky estate planning lawyers. Our doors are open to all, and we offer payment plans for those who need help.
Call Smith Law today at (859) 710-9001 or contact us online to set up a consultation.