A will is a legal document that tells your family how to distribute your assets and manage your affairs after your death. In Kentucky, as in other states, wills must meet certain basic requirements to be enforceable. Since wills vary based on the needs and situation of the person creating each document, the state does not provide forms. Instead, Kentucky residents wishing to create a will generally must visit a lawyer or an online legal document provider to obtain their wills.
Contents of a Will
Your will describes what is to happen to your assets after your death, including who should inherit each asset. Your will may also name someone to manage your estate after your death but before it is distributed to your beneficiaries. It is this manager, known as an executor, who gathers your assets, pays your final debts and ensures each of your beneficiaries gets his share. Without a will, the state determines how your assets are to be distributed. If you have minor children, you can use your will to nominate a guardian for your children. Though the guardian must be appointed by a Kentucky court after your death, courts generally accept the nominations contained in wills.
Executing the Will
Kentucky requires you to observe certain formalities to create a valid will, and only adults who are 18 years of age or older can make a will. You must also be of sound mind to create a will, meaning you know you are making the will, know the general nature of your assets and know the names of relatives who would inherit from you. Further, you must sign your will in front of two witnesses who do not inherit anything under your will and are not married to someone who inherits under your will.
As a Kentucky resident, you can create your own will entirely in your own handwriting, called a holographic will. Such wills do not have to be signed by witnesses, but you must sign and date the will; after your death, someone must be able to testify that the will is in your own handwriting. This can be risky and can cost more money in the long run because of the additional time and expense to have someone prove your handwriting after your death. If you type your will instead, you must have two witnesses sign it.
Dying Without a Will
Whether you die with a will or without one, your estate follows a similar process through the Kentucky courts. However, when you die without a will, Kentucky state law determines how your assets are distributed. For example, your surviving spouse inherits the first $15,000 of your estate plus half of the remaining property. If you have surviving children, they inherit the other half or, if you have no surviving children, your parents inherit the other half. If you do not have a surviving spouse, your estate goes to your children or, if you have no children, to your parents.