A will is one of the essential parts of any Kentucky estate plan. Wills are vital documents and ensure that your final wishes are carried out. Surprisingly, wills are simple to create.
The more assets you have, the more complex estate planning can become. Making a will is likely the first step you’ll take as you navigate the estate planning process. Whether you have a complicated financial situation or simply want to leave your valuables to your grandchildren, a will can give you the peace of mind you deserve.
If you are thinking about taking the first steps in estate planning, the attorneys at Berkley Oliver are ready to help. Our team of dedicated estate lawyers will support you in executing a will to meet your unique needs.
The Basics of a Kentucky Will
Wills are generally the most well-known element in the process of estate planning. They are legal documents that dictate how a person’s estate is settled after they pass on. A will can include instructions and requests that span any number of items, including:
- How and when your assets are distributed
- How you will pay debts and taxes
- The beneficiaries you’ve chosen
- Guardians of minor children
- Charitable donations
A will is a key to identifying the individuals or entities who will inherit your assets, property, and items after your death.
Additionally, a will can provide essential instructions that someone you choose will carry out in the event of your death or incapacitation. This person, called the executor, is also a critical element in any Kentucky will.
Choosing an Executor
An executor is a designated individual who will legally oversee your will and ensure that every request is carried out accordingly. One of the most important steps you’ll have to take before finalizing your will is choosing a person to be the executor. Because of the significant responsibility involved, the executor should be someone you trust.
Kentucky Probate and the Importance of Wills
Each state has different estate planning and administration laws, statutes, and procedures. Unfortunately, when a person dies without a will, the district court will make a determination regarding who becomes the administrator of the estate because no executor was appointed by will.
In most cases, Kentucky courts follow intestate succession laws to determine who gets what. Succession follows a standard approach that considers your closest relatives first, including your spouse, children, and siblings. However, don’t just assume your spouse will receive everything if you die without a will – that is often not the case! Unless you take the necessary precautions, you risk losing control over your final wishes.
Creating a Will in Kentucky
For someone to create a legally valid will in Kentucky, they must fulfill only a few essential elements under state law. They must:
- Be of sound mind
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have two witnesses present during the signing
Although a will is a simple process for many, there are legal and financial layers to this document that can quickly become complex.
As such, before you draft a will, you should consult with an estate planning lawyer who can ensure that you leave no stone unturned. Even a tiny mistake in the process can result in a will becoming invalid, and the consequences could be significant.
Revoking or Modifying a Will
Wills are broad, and people can experience life changes over the years, such as acquiring additional property, having children, or relocating to another state. Whatever the case, there are a few options for making sure that you can amend your will to reflect such changes. However, the process can be delicate.
In Kentucky, you have some options, including:
- Writing a new will altogether
- Writing a declaration to revoke your previous will
- Physically destroying earlier incarnations of your will
- Drafting a codicil to make minor modifications to your existing will
The best way to know that your will is foolproof is to consult an estate planning lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action.
Although you planned accordingly and left clear instructions in your will, under some circumstances, Kentucky law allows others to contest your will within two years after your death. Legal grounds to contest a will include:
- Allegations of fraud
- Concerns over illegal coercion
- The testator was not of sound mind
The grounds for filing a valid claim against a will are held to high legal standards. Although the law protects every party’s best interests, an attorney is an essential resource in ensuring that your will is safe from the threat of an unexpected challenge.
Contact a Shelby County Estate Planning Attorney Today
Your legacy is important, and a will is a foundation for making sure that your wishes are fulfilled after your death. You can learn more about creating a will by consulting with an estate planning attorney in Shelby County, Kentucky. Contact us today for a free consultation.