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Why it is important to have a will

Many Kentucky residents have a Last Will and Testament specifying to whom they wish their various pieces of property to go when they die. Others put off drafting a will, preferring not to think about their own mortality. They may wish to reconsider, however, when they discover that if they die without having made a will, they will be considered to have died intestate. In such a case, Kentucky’s intestate succession laws will determine to whom their property goes, possibly resulting in distributions to people the decedent would not have desired receive any of his or her property.

Extension.org explains that each state has its own intestate succession laws that determine the decedent’s line of succession and which heirs receive which portions of the decedent’s estate. A surviving spouse usually is considered to be the primary heir, followed by the decedent’s surviving children, parents, siblings and more distant relatives. If there are no surviving heirs, the property goes to the state.

Kentucky intestate exemption

In terms of a decedent’s personal property, Living Trust Network states that after payment of funeral expenses, debts, etc., the District Court can exempt the first $15,000 of property from intestate distribution and set it aside for the benefit of the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, the benefit of the surviving children. In either case, however, the spouse or children must apply to the court for this exemption.

This $15,000 worth of exempt property may be in the form of money or personal property of that value. The surviving spouse also can petition the court to withdraw up to $1,000 from the decedent’s solely owned bank account. The remainder of the decedent’s estate will pass under the laws of intestate distribution.

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