Inheritance Laws in Kentucky

By Holly Cameron

Inheritance laws in Kentucky depend on whether or not the deceased person, known as the decedent, has written a will. If he has made a valid will, his estate passes to his chosen beneficiaries in accordance with his wishes. However, if he did not make a will, his estate will be distributed in accordance with state law. This is known as intestate succession. Additionally, Kentucky requires certain beneficiaries to pay tax on bequests over a certain value.

Intestate Succession

If the decedent has not written a will and has a surviving spouse, the spouse is entitled to half his estate after payment of debts and funeral expenses. The remaining half goes to the decedent’s children or grandchildren. If he has no children or grandchildren, his parents are entitled to half the estate. If he has no surviving children, grandchildren or parents, his siblings share the remaining half. Where a person dies intestate with no surviving spouse, state laws provide that his estate be distributed to children, grandchildren, parents and siblings in a similar order.

Inheritance Tax

The Kentucky Department of Revenue levies taxes on bequests received by beneficiaries. The law divides beneficiaries into three categories: Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A beneficiaries include a surviving spouse, parent and child of the decedent. Class B beneficiaries comprise more distant relatives such as nephews, nieces and relations by marriage. Beneficiaries who do not fall within classes A and B are deemed Class C beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Amount of Inheritance Tax

The amount of inheritance tax depends on the value of the bequest and the relationship between the beneficiary and the decedent. In most cases, a Class A beneficiary is exempt from paying inheritance tax. Class B beneficiaries only pay inheritance tax on bequests over $1000 at a rate of between 4 and 16 percent. Class C beneficiaries pay inheritance tax if the values of their bequests exceed $500.

Joint Assets and Insurance

Even if the deceased has written a will, certain assets may not pass in accordance with the terms of the will. For example, if a husband and wife own a house together, the house deed may state that upon the death of either spouse, the deceased spouse's share will pass directly to the other spouse. Similarly, if a decedent has taken out an insurance policy and specified another person as his beneficiary, that person is entitled to the benefits, regardless of the terms of the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Dying Without a Will in Kentucky


Related articles

Can I Pay Medical Expenses From an Irrevocable Trust?

A trust is a method of placing assets under the control of a trustee, for the purpose of passing these assets to beneficiaries. An irrevocable trust can't be changed or revoked by the grantor of the trust. With this arrangement, the assets pass to heirs outside of a probate court and escape federal estate tax. One legal purpose of a trust would be to pay medical expenses on behalf of a beneficiary.

The Inheritance Statute in Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. has enacted the Uniform Probate Code, a law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws that is designed to harmonize the probate laws of the various states. The Uniform Probate Code governs the distribution of inheritances bequeathed by people who resided in the District of Columbia when they died.

What is the New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Claims Against a Decedent's Estate?

Under New Jersey law, creditors have only a limited number of months to make a claim against an estate. If a claim is made past the deadline, the estate is not responsible to pay the debt. For debtors who die without a will, the laws of intestacy impose a similar time limit for creditors to make a claim. Certain estate planning tools may be useful to avoid creditor claims and executors may negotiate or contest claims against the estate.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the ...

What Are the Disadvantages of an Irrevocable Trust?

A trust is a legal device that permits a grantor to place assets under the control of a trustee, then who administers ...

What Is a Family Trust?

A family trust is used to pass assets on to family members or other beneficiaries and may be set up as part of an ...

The Hierarchy of Heirs

The hierarchy of heirs is determined by laws that govern inheritance in each state. Some states have adopted the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED