If an individual dies without a will, referred to as “dying intestate,” then their property will be distributed according to Kentucky’s intestacy laws. Generally, assets would be given first to a spouse or children. If neither is applicable then it would go to parents, grandparents, siblings, or other relatives. If the decedent didn’t have a living relative, then the state would take ownership of the estate.
Commonly Inherited Assets
Commonly inherited assets include:
- House or any other property or land
- Personal belongings and household items
- Motor vehicles
- Money in a bank account
- Trusts and shares
- Pension or life insurance payout
Overview of Trusts
A trust can is a fiduciary relationship whereby an individual is appointed to handle the final affairs of the decedent and transfer assets to beneficiaries. Upon death or sudden incapacitation, the appointed trustee steps in and administers the estate in accordance with the provisions outlined in the trust.
A trust should contain all assets, including real estate property, business interests, investments, and bank or saving accounts.
Types of Trusts
There are several types of trusts, depending on your situation and needs, including:
- Revocable Trusts: A revocable trust (or living trust) is used to avoid having your estate go through probate (the legal process of transferring your estate) upon your death. This saves your loved ones both time and expense.
- Irrevocable Trusts: In an irrevocable trust, you relinquish your control over the assets in order to avoid paying taxes on them. However, assets placed in an irrevocable trust can't be removed or amended.
- Testamentary Trusts: A testamentary trust only goes into effect upon your death and is usually created through a will.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether a will and/or trust is more beneficial for your needs. Some of the differences to consider include:
- Bypass Probate: A living trust can help avoid having your estate go through the probate process which can be both time consuming and costly.
- Consideration for Minors: Assets can be kept in trust until a future date. For instance, when the beneficiary or minor dependents reach a certain age.
- Adequate Protection: In case of sudden mental incapacitation, a trust can help protect your estate and specify care decisions.
- Privacy Is Maintained: Unlike a will that often becomes public record, trusts will always remain private since they don't go through probate.
Having both a will and a trust is crucial to protect your assets and loved ones upon your death.
How Reliable Legal Counsel Can Help
Estate planning isn’t something that most people are anxious to consider. However, it’s never too soon to plan for the unforeseeable future. Your loved ones will benefit from knowing your wishes and how to determine key decisions should you no longer be able to voice your opinion. Experienced legal counsel can help you choose the option that best fits your needs.
Our diverse team of attorneys at Bland & Birdwhistell, PLLC, provide comprehensive assistance in all matters of estate planning, wills, and trusts. We have the experience and resources necessary to successfully guide you through the process. Our team will evaluate your unique situation and help determine what is best for you.