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Ways to Avoid Probate in Kentucky

Probate in Kentucky

As you begin thinking about how you want to divide your assets after you pass, you may have learned about the probate process. After seeing how time-consuming and expensive it can be, it’s likely that you want to protect your loved ones from the grueling probate process after your death. Luckily, there are many ways you can do that in Kentucky. With a mixture of these techniques and the assistance of an estate planning lawyer in Louisville, you can create an estate plan that protects your legacy. Get started now by calling John H. Ruby & Associates at 502-373-8044.

Consider a Living Trust

Perhaps the most straightforward way to protect your assets from the probate process is a living trust. Thousands of people choose a living trust for a seamless transfer of assets after their death. Basically, a living trust is its own entity capable of owning assets. You transfer assets to the trust and name yourself as the trustee. You can access and use these assets, remove assets, or add assets. 

Upon your death, management of the trust passes to a successor trustee. Assets can then be distributed to the beneficiaries without having to navigate the probate process. If a living trust doesn’t meet your needs, there are many other types of trusts to discuss with a Louisville estate planning attorney, including irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, and charitable trusts.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds for Various Assets

Numerous assets can be transferred immediately upon your death. Stocks and bonds can be transferred to a named beneficiary with the simple completion of a transfer-on-death form. This is an easy way to handle your brokerage account when you pass, as the recipient can then reach out to the brokerage company after you pass to get the account put into their name. Other assets may be able to be transferred upon your death, although Kentucky does not allow TOD deeds for real estate or vehicles.

POD Designations

Similar to transfer-on-death options, many financial accounts allow you to name a beneficiary to whom accounts will be transferred upon your death. While you live, the payable-on-death beneficiary has no access to the money and has no control over it, so there are no limits placed upon your spending. Savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, and other bank accounts can be transferred upon your death without going through probate. The POD beneficiary simply has to contact the bank to claim the money after you pass.

Joint Ownership of Certain Assets

If you own any property with another person—for example, your spouse—you can ensure that your joint ownership includes the right of survivorship. This means that the property automatically becomes the sole property of the other party upon one party’s passing without having to go through probate. This doesn’t mean it’s seamless, though—the new sole owner will have to maintain the proper documentation to show that they have the right of survivorship due to joint ownership.

If you own property in joint tenancy, such as real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts, it automatically goes to your co-owner when you pass. This is often the case for couples who have commingled their finances.

Small Estate Size

Certain estates do not have to go through a lengthy probate process in Kentucky. Even if your entire estate exceeds the state limits for a simplified probate procedure, by handling certain assets with the techniques listed above, you may be able to get your estate below the limit. Your beneficiaries can skip probate court proceedings if the property is worth less than $30,000 and they are your spouse, child, or creditor. If there is only one beneficiary, they can wait six months and then bypass probate. Finally, if everyone entitled to the estate agrees to dispense with administration, they can bypass the probate process.

Start Your Estate Planning Journey with John H. Ruby & Associates

You’ve worked so hard to build up your portfolio of assets—don’t let it get chipped away by probate and other costly endeavors after your passing. Let the team at John H. Ruby & Associates help you craft an estate plan that serves your legacy. Call us at 502-373-8044 or get in touch with us online to get started.