Probate is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate, involving paying outstanding debts and distributing assets. All estates in Kentucky worth over $15,000 must go through probate.
However, if your estate exceeds the state’s threshold amount, these strategies can help your heirs avoid probate.
Reasons to avoid probate?
There are many valid reasons why your heirs may want to avoid probate, including the following:
- The process is long and may take years if someone contests your will
- Assets in multiple states must go through separate and costly probate processes
- Probate is public and exposes private matters regarding your estate
What are some ways to avoid probate?
You can take these measures while living to prevent your estate from going through probate.
The property you own jointly with a spouse or someone else will not be subject to probate. In Kentucky, survivors must own equal property shares to avoid probate when an owner dies. The state also gives a surviving spouse full ownership of real estate they own with a deceased spouse, which avoids probate.
Make your accounts payable or transferrable upon death
A bank account will not go through probate if you make it payable to a beneficiary upon your death. To avoid probate, you can also make stocks and bonds directly transferable to a beneficiary upon death.
Create a living trust
This option is suitable for individuals with various assets such as real estate, art, vehicles, and anything else they may want to exempt from probate. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, and their holdings are technically not part of the deceased’s estate. Therefore, they avoid probate.
Understanding probate laws in Kentucky can help you make practical decisions about your estate that can affect your heirs.