Ben Franklin famously said, “…in this world there is nothing certain except death and taxes.” If he would have lived in today’s world, I feel confident he would have included relentless spam calls about your car’s extended warranty…but that’s beside the point. Nobody likes to think about either, because let’s face it, they both stink. But unfortunately, both need attention and ignoring them could land you or those you love in court.
In reality, many people don’t want to think about making a will because it brings into focus the fragility of life and the finality of death. But none of us are promised tomorrow, and honestly, who wants to allow the court system to decide who gets all the valuable possessions you’ve collected throughout an entire lifetime? Certainly not me, and probably not you either. That’s why you need a will.
Like many states, Kentucky law decides how your property is given away if you die without a will, or die intestate. There are a few general rules. For example, if you die without a last will and testament and you are married with children (from the marriage), your husband or wife will receive one-half (1/2) of your property and your children will receive the remaining share(s). The rules are different for stepchildren, foster children, etc. If you are survived by children and no spouse, the children will inherit the entire estate. If you die without a will and have no family, your property and possessions will fall to the state of Kentucky. Though this is rare, sadly it does happen.
There are also financial and other consequences to not writing a will. Besides family members having to attend probate court and a judge overseeing who gets what, there can be tax consequences, i.e., the government taking more than it would have had there been a will, and paying for the more extensive probate process, especially if it’s a complicated estate.
Another important aspect of writing a will is custody of children. A will can designate where you want your child/children to go if both parents are deceased. While it doesn’t guarantee that outcome, most courts give great weight to parents’ wishes. If you don’t have a will, the court system decides who gets your children.
Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere between $300-$1000, depending on its complexity, to have a licensed attorney prepare a will for you. Your last will and testament must include a signature either by you or by another person under your direction and be signed by two witnesses. You also have to be 18 years of age and deemed of sound mind.
While there is always the option of writing a will on your own with either with a kit or a holographic will, it seems well worth the peace of mind for you and your loved ones to have it professionally prepared to ensure it will be error free and less likely to be contested. Though it might seem a pain now, it will certainly be beneficial in the end. Contact our attorneys today for assistance in preparing a will.