Kentucky Bankruptcy Law

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Intriguing statistics regarding estate planning

I found this post by Pennsylvania attorney, Neil Hendershot, to be give an intriguing insight into how people approach (or fail to approach) estate planning. He notes that 55% of all adults in the U.S. do NOT have a will. He lists the top reasons for this as:

    “Ignorance is bliss: One in ten (10 percent) American adults who do not have any elements of an estate plan say it’s because they don’t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated.

    “Where to begin?: Similarly, nearly one in ten (9 percent) adults say they don’t have an estate plan in place because they don’t know who to talk to about creating such documents. This percentage nearly doubled from 2004 (5 percent).

    “But I don’t need a will: Nearly one in four (24 percent) of adults say their biggest reason for not having an estate plan is a lack of sufficient assets. This was also the top reason cited in the 2004 survey (21 percent).”

    Source: 2007 Estate Planning Survey.

Whether you have millions or merely thousands, not writing a will lets the default provisions of your state’s law kick in and decide what to do with your wealth. This is called dying intestate (no testamentary or will). In Kentucky, intestacy involves some fairly convoluted statutes found in Chapter 391 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes.

Many people may assume that if they die and have a living spouse, that spouse gets the estate. Actually, spouses are fourth in line (with a $15,000 exception on personal property) after siblings of the deceased. To find the spouses inheritance, we have to skip over to Chapter 392 for dower and curtesy rights. Both are arcane terms that now just mean the spouses share. As an oversimplification of the statute, the spouse gets 1/2 of the estate.

So, trusting your estate to the wisdom of the State, if you die with a spouse but no children, but with one of your parents still alive, your spouse would be stuck sharing all your worldly goods and the old home place with that mother-in-law or father-in-law he or she never got along with. Not exactly the best gift to leave behind. You might end up in Paradise but your spouse could be living in hell. Wealth planning is worth the investment.

Many people want to DIY (do it yourself) their estate plans. That is fine as long as you are willing to do the research necessary to have your plan do exactly what you want to do. I suggest that if you are a DIYer, invest at least a little money to come in an have an attorney review your draft documents and provide written feedback to finalize your will, trust, or power of attorney. It is well worth the investment to be sure you are saying what you want in the documents and that the formalities are satisfied, and yet it is still less expensive than having the attorney do all the work.


April 14, 2007 - Posted by | Estate Planning

1 Comment »

  1. When my former husband died according to his present wife nothing in the will was left to anyone of his six adult children. The former wife said they were not mentioned in the will. Since this man was suffering from dementia for the past 4 or 5 years it, his wife has not let the children see the will or that of his mother in which the present wife claims that the grandchildren were not mentioned. In past wills that we have seen some of his estate and that of his mother also included these six children. He had no children from the present marriage. His wife had 2 which he never adopted. Is there anyway for my children to legally claim part of his estate. he died 2 years ago this May. Thank you if you can answer any of these questions,. He lived and died in Kentucky.

    Comment by Ruth Mary Campbell | November 27, 2009 | Reply

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