Probate is a court-supervised process that involves the administration of a deceased person’s estate. The process typically consists of authenticating a will, paying off debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. The probate process is often time-consuming and expensive. Fortunately, as we explain below, there are several ways to avoid probate in Kentucky.
One way to avoid probate in Kentucky is to create a living trust. With a living trust, you can avoid probate for virtually any asset you own, including vehicles, real estate, and bank accounts. Once you transfer assets into the trust, the property is then controlled by the terms of the trust. Upon your death, trust assets are transferred to named beneficiaries without probate court proceedings.
Another method to avoid the probate process in Kentucky is to own property jointly with someone else. If you own property jointly, and this ownership includes the “right of survivorship,” then the surviving owner will automatically own the property when the other owner passes away. Probate is not necessary to facilitate the transfer of such property. In Kentucky, the following types of joint ownership are available:
Joint tenancy: Property that is owned in joint tenancy automatically passes to the surviving owner or owners when one owner dies. Joint tenancy typically works well when couples acquire vehicles, real estate, bank accounts, or other valuable property together.
Tenancy by the entirety: This type of joint ownership is like joint tenancy, but it is only available to married couples. In addition, tenancy by the entirety in Kentucky is allowed for real estate only.
Payable-On-Death Designations for Bank Accounts
In Kentucky, you may add a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation to your bank accounts. After adding such a designation, you still control all the money in the account, and the named beneficiary has no rights to the money. However, after your death, the beneficiary can claim the proceeds from the account directly from the bank without the need for probate court proceedings.
Transfer-On-Death Registration for Securities
It is also possible in Kentucky to transfer securities without going through the probate process. This can be accomplished by registering a securities account in transfer-on-death (TOD) form. After registering a security in TOD form, the named beneficiary will inherit the account automatically upon your death.
Contact an Experienced Shelby County Estate Planning Attorney
If you want to avoid probate in Kentucky, you need an estate plan. At Berkley Oliver PLLC, our experienced and talented estate planning attorneys provide estate planning services to clients throughout Central Kentucky. Having a knowledgeable Kentucky estate planning lawyer in your corner takes the guesswork and uncertainty out of the estate planning process. Regardless of your estate planning needs, the attorneys at Berkley Oliver will do what is necessary to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled. If you would like to begin the estate planning process, please contact us today to schedule a consultation.