Creating a last will can be a stressful and complicated process, which is probably one reason why so many people put off doing it. Some people mistakenly believe that they don’t have enough assets to justify the creation of the last will, while others might wrongly assume that their loved ones will be able to follow their wishes without any written will or instructions.
In reality, if you die without a last will or estate plan on record, the state of Kentucky will have the ultimate say and total control over the distribution of your assets in your estate. Your loved ones may have to wait weeks or months for access to or control over assets and accounts.
Regardless of whether you have a preference of who retains which items or simply wish to facilitate an easier transfer of property that won’t necessitate going through probate court, the creation of a last will or estate plan protects not just you but also the people who depend on you financially.
What happens to those who die without a will?
Intestate succession laws dictate how the Kentucky probate courts allocate your assets and finalize your affairs if you die intestate, or without a last will. In fact, the code is very specific about how to divide assets in an estate without a last will or estate plan. The relationship your dependents and heirs have with you will influence what rights they have under Kentucky’s probate law.
Generally speaking, your spouse, children, parents and siblings have the strongest claim to intestate asset succession. For those who have a spouse but no children or other heirs, such as parents and siblings, the spouse will inherit their entire estate. If you and your spouse share children, your spouse will receive half of your personal property and half of your real property, such as a home or cabin, with the balance getting split between your children.
The same basic set-up is used for those who died intestate with a spouse and parents. The spouse retains half, while the parents split the remaining half. Siblings typically only have a claim if an intestate estate stems from someone with a spouse but no children or parents, or those with no children, no spouse and no surviving parents. In the event that there are no direct family members, the state of Kentucky might wind up assuming ownership of all of the assets left in your estate.
Creating a last will and testament allows you to control your own legacy
You can’t necessarily influence which memories people will retain of you, but you can ensure that you leave behind a lasting legacy that testifies to your compassion, interests and values. Whether you want to leave some of your assets for charity or hope to provide some financial resources for a friend or neighbor, the legacy you want to leave behind is ultimately in your control.
If you choose to do nothing, you will lose that control, but engaging in estate planning and creating a last will allows you to structure the way that people view you and your life once you die.