Ways to Avoid Probate in Kentucky

By Joshua Berkley

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. 

Living Trusts

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.

Joint Ownership

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.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.