Intestacy laws apply if you die without a will or trust. In fact, the state of Kentucky has an estate plan for you and it’s called “intestate succession.” This may not be the estate plan you want. And, it certainly isn’t the estate plan your spouse wants you to have. Here are 4 shocking Kentucky intestacy facts.
1. Any real estate you own in your individual name does not pass entirely to your spouse.
Your spouse has a right under state dower laws to 1/2 of surplus real estate — the rest of the real estate does not pass to your spouse. Instead, 1/2 of the real estate, even the house your spouse may be living in, passes to your children and their children.
If you don’t have children or grandchildren, the 1/2 passes to your parents.
If you don’t have living parents, the half interest passes to your siblings and their children.
If you own real estate in your individual name, rather than in trust or by joint tenancy, your real estate only passes entirely to your spouse if you don’t have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews.
2. Your spouse gets up to $15,000
If he or she applies for it, personal property (property other than real estate) worth $15,000 is set aside and distributed to your spouse before payments to creditors or heirs.
3. Your spouse gets one-half of the rest
Your spouse gets one-half of the rest of your assets and your children get one-half of the assets. If your children have predeceased, their children (your grandchildren) will inherit their parent’s share.
If you don’t have children, your spouse gets one-half of the rest of your assets and your parents get one-half of the assets. If your parents have both predeceased, your siblings (or their children) will share your parents’ one-half share.
Your spouse only inherits all of your assets if you have no children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews.
4. The state is your beneficiary
If your beneficiaries do not claim your estate within three years, your property escheats to the state.
This means that all of your assets go to the state of Kentucky.
If Kentucky’s estate plan isn’t for you, you need to do your own estate planning. Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.