What happens when a person in Kentucky dies without a will?

What happens when a person in Kentucky dies without a will?

| Jun 8, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Once a person reaches middle age or becomes an empty-nester they often start to give thought to what they want to happen to their property once they pass away. They may want family heirlooms to go to their adult children or they may want their home to stay in the family. That said, many people in Kentucky will never get around to executing a will or trust meaning these wishes will never be known. When a person in Kentucky dies without a will the court will distribute their personal property and real property (real estate) to heirs per state laws of intestate succession.

Per stirpes inheritance

Before we delve into the lines of heirs via intestate succession, it is important to understand the legal doctrine of “per stirpes.” When a person inherits per stirpes, they inherit a share that is equal to the person they are representing. It is often applied to grandchildren. If a any of the class of heirs passes away before the decedent, and had they lived they would have received an inheritance, their decedents will receive what the parent would have received as an inheritance, divided evenly among children if there is more than one.

Intestate succession in Kentucky

If a person in Kentucky dies without a will and is survived by a spouse and descendants, the surviving spouse will receive 50% of the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s descendants will receive the other 50% per stirpes. If a person in Kentucky dies without a will and is survived by descendants but no spouse their descendants will receive their entire estate per stirpes.

If a person in Kentucky dies without a will and is survived by a spouse and parents but no descendants, the surviving spouse will receive 50% of the decedent’s estate and the person’s parents will receive 25% each of the decedent’s estate, or if only one parent survives the decedent that parent will receive 50% of the decedent’s estate. If a person in Kentucky dies without a will and is survived by a spouse and siblings but no descendants or parents, the surviving spouse will receive 50% of the decedent’s estate and the decedent’s siblings will receive 50% of the decedent’s estate, per stirpes.

If a person in Kentucky dies without a will and is survived by descendants of a deceased sibling and does not have the decedent does not have a souse, descendants of their own or surviving parents, then the descendants of the deceased’s siblings (nieces and nephews or their children) will receive the entirety of the decedent’s estate, per stirpes. Finally, if a person in Kentucky dies without a will and has no relatives as described earlier to inherit, the deceased’s entire estate will go to the state.

Do not put off executing a will

If a person in Kentucky dies without a will, Kentucky laws on intestate succession will apply whether they reflect the deceased’s preferences or not. Therefore, it is important not to put off executing a will even if you find the idea of doing so unpleasant. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s website on estate planning may be of interest to those wishing to learn more about this topic.