Will Attorney in Louisville, KY
One of the most basic pieces of a comprehensive estate plan is a last will and testament, often referred to simply as a will. Not only are wills very important, but they are also relatively simply to create, and can be formed by any person who is at least 18 years of age and is of sound mind. At the law offices of John H. Ruby & Associates, our will attorneys in Kentucky are skilled in will creation, and can help you to understand how to create a will, what can and should be included in your will, and how to amend your will if things change in the future.
What Does a Will Do?
A will is a legal document that dictates how an estate is to be settled at the time of the testator’s (the person who creates the will) death, and how debts will be paid, and assets will be divided and distributed. Essentially, a will is used for determining who will inherit what when a person dies.
In addition to setting specific instructions for the distribution of an estate, a will is also used to:
- Name an executor of the estate;
- Leave money to charity; and
- Name a guardian for a minor child.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
Some people haven’t taken the time to create a will because the idea sounds too morbid to them – nobody likes to think about death. However, something that may motivate you to create a will is understanding what happens if you die without a will. In Kentucky, if you die without a will, your estate will be divided per the state’s intestacy laws. This means that your assets will be split amongst your spouse, children, parents, and other living relatives as the state sees fit. If you want to have any control over what happens to your assets and how your loved ones are provided for, creating a will is important.
How Do I Create My Will?
Almost anyone can create a will; as stated above, a person must be at least 18 years of age to create a will, and must be of a sound mind. The will must also be created voluntarily; if a person is coerced into making a will, then it will probably not be valid in the eyes of the law.
For a will be valid in Kentucky, it must be written. This means that Person A cannot simply tell Person B their wishes for their property – they must write them down. The two other requirements for the creation of a will are that the will is signed by the testator, and that the signing occurs in the presence of two witnesses.
As a note, handwritten wills that are entirely handwritten by the testator are allowed, and do not have to be witnessed. However, while these wills are permitted, they are not recommended. It can be difficult to prove their validity, and a lack of legal knowledge can lead to a lack of clarity about the testator’s intentions for their property.
Can I Change My Will later?
One concern that many clients we work with have is that if they create their will now and something changes in the future, they won’t be able to make amends to their will. The good news, however, is that a Kentucky will can be changed at any point before the testator’s death, so long as the testator is still of a sound mind.
It’s smart to create a will while it is relevant to your circumstances now. If you experience a major life change, such as having a child, creating or selling a business, buying a house, getting married, etc. and you want to change your will, you can revoke your old will and replace it with your new will. This process occurs by:
- Creating a new will;
- Declaring an intention to revoke the prior will in writing; or
- Physically destroying the old will with the intention to revoke it.
Benefits to Creating a Will
It is common to think that you don’t need a will if you’re not particularly wealthy or don’t have any children. While creating a will is a personal choice, if you own property and don’t want it to be subject to intestacy laws, creating a will is within your best interest. If you have minor children, creating a will to name a guardian for your children is strongly recommended; otherwise, there may be a dispute amongst guardianship, and there may be a delay in your child being placed with a family member or trusted love one.
Again, creating a will is easy to do, affordable, and is a choice that can be reversed or amended at any time. There is really no reason to not create a will.
Despite all the thought and hard work you put into writing your will, someone may always contest it. A person may contest your will within the first two years following your death. Grounds for contesting a will include:
- Allegations that the testator was subject to fraud or undue influence
- The will’s failure to conform to legal formalities
- Testator was not of sound body and mind
Whether you believe you have grounds to contest a will, or need legal advice because a loved one’s will is being contested, we can help you.
Why Work with John H. Ruby & Associates
Like creating a will, the decision to hire an attorney for will creation services (or create a will on your own without legal counsel) is entirely up to you. Working with an attorney can be beneficial, however, especially if you have a complicated estate or want to leave your assets to multiple beneficiaries, including any charitable organizations.
When you work with John H. Ruby & Associates, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re working with an experienced legal team. Attorney John H. Ruby has been running his own legal practice for nearly 20 years, and is extremely knowledge in Kentucky will and estate planning law. Our team can not only guide you in the creation of your will, but in making smart decisions for your estate and ensure that all beneficiaries are provided for and all assets accounted for.
If you’re ready to learn more about creating a will, please reach out to our team today by sending us a message using the contact form on our website. You can also call us at 502-895-2626, or visit our Louisville office on Breckenridge Lane today.