Kentucky Heir Law Concerning Grandchildren

By Jeff Franco J.D./M.A./M.B.A.

The laws governing Kentucky wills allow you to name any person or organization as an heir to your estate, including grandchildren. However, if you fail to draft a will, Kentucky will apply its intestate succession laws to determine which of your family members will receive your property. In this case, the state will attempt to distribute your entire estate to other heirs before your grandchildren can receive anything.

The laws governing Kentucky wills allow you to name any person or organization as an heir to your estate, including grandchildren. However, if you fail to draft a will, Kentucky will apply its intestate succession laws to determine which of your family members will receive your property. In this case, the state will attempt to distribute your entire estate to other heirs before your grandchildren can receive anything.

Naming Grandchildren as Heirs

If your intention is to leave all or part of your estate to your grandchildren, the most effective way to accomplish this is by drafting a will that is legally enforceable in Kentucky. Under Kentucky law, you must be of sound mind at the time you draft the will – meaning you don’t suffer from mental incapacity, which prevents you from fully understanding the implications of naming grandchildren as heirs. Your will must always be written, but you have two options for satisfying this requirement. If you handwrite your will and it includes your signature and the date, this is sufficient for the state to enforce it at your death. However, if you type the will on a computer, it must include the signatures of two witnesses who are present at the time you sign it. By adhering to these requirements, you will have peace of mind knowing your grandchildren will receive everything you leave to them. An online document preparation service can help ensure your will meets all of Kentucky's requirements.

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Grandchildren as Representatives

There are other ways your grandchildren may receive your estate property if you don’t name them as heirs in your will. If you designate each of your children as heirs in your will, but one of them predeceases you and you never update your will, Kentucky allows your deceased child's children to take their parent’s share of your estate. For example, if you name your son and daughter – who each have two children -- as the sole heirs to your estate, but your son predeceases you, your daughter will receive one-half of your estate and your son’s two children receive the other half per stirpes. This means they represent their father for purposes of your will. However, your daughter’s children won't receive anything from your estate since your daughter is alive when your estate property is distributed.

No Will Exists

In the event you fail to draft a legal will, Kentucky probate courts will distribute the property in your estate pursuant to the state’s intestate succession laws. These laws determine which of your family members are eligible to receive your property and in which order. Kentucky will distribute half of your assets to your surviving spouse, if any, and half of your assets to your children. If your children predecease you, as previously discussed, your grandchildren are next in line for distribution.

Implications of Surviving Spouse

One thing to consider when drafting your will is that if you leave your entire estate to your grandchildren and disinherit your spouse, Kentucky allows your spouse to renounce or challenge the will in probate court to obtain the minimum distribution Kentucky permits surviving spouses to collect, commonly referred to as a surviving spouse's "elective share." As a result, there can be lengthy delays in the distribution of your estate to your grandchildren.

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Illinois Laws on Wills

References

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How Is Property Divided Equally With a Will in Place?

Often, it is not possible to divide an entire life's worth of property equally between two or more people, but you can make your best efforts to do so in your will. If you have valuable property that cannot be divided, you may instead decide to make specific gifts to your loved ones, and avoid the hassle of trying to divide your estate perfectly evenly. After you die, an executor or personal representative may be appointed to distribute your property according to your wishes.

What If a Will Is Written Before a Grandchild Is Born?

A well-written will may cover most scenarios involving inheritance by including language or definitions to that effect. The terms “issue” or “lineal descendants” are often used to make it possible for children of subsequent generations to inherit from the grandparent. A grandparent whose will names grandchildren as beneficiaries should consider adding a similar provision referring to future grandchildren. Sometimes, however, a will does not specifically reference unknown or future generations. In such cases, state law or other will provisions determine the disposition of property.

Children's Rights in Estate Wills

Your state’s laws determine who inherits your assets if you don’t have a valid will when you die; your spouse and children are among the first to receive property from your estate. However, you can change this “default” distribution scheme by creating a will describing how you want your property to be distributed. Your will can give inheritance rights to your children, though you cannot disinherit your spouse under most circumstances, even if you want to give his share to your children.

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