By: Terry Bennett
Death isn’t a topic anyone enjoys talking about, but left without discussion, it can cause many unwanted ramifications for your relatives in addition to the already expected despair. Many people do not understand how seriously it can hurt their relatives if they die without a will. There are many difficulties to deal with when a person passes without a will that can tie up their estate in Probate Court for a lengthy period of time and cost relatives a great deal of money and effort. Before you decide you don’t need to worry about creating a will yet, consider the following.
Firstly, if you die without a will, you do not get to choose who inherits your property. Instead, the state of Kentucky does. If you are married man, for example, the statutes of Kentucky state that your wife will only inherit a portion of your estate and your children or other beneficiaries will inherit the rest. In addition, you are not able to determine who is the executor of your will. The executor is the individual who handles your estate during probate. The court can appoint various people to be the personal representative of your estate and in many cases there are legal battles between various beneficiaries as to who will be appointed.
Furthermore, without a will, the personal representative of your estate will have to post bond, which is extremely difficult to obtain. In order to get this bond, they must go to a commercial bonding/insurance company and submit financial statements to make sure that your family is capable of paying for the bond if you default. In many cases, the insurance company turns down individuals because they believe the risk is too great.
If you have minor children, then the court will decide who becomes the guardian. This can be devastating if you have a relative who you do not want to raise your children but the court appoints that relative anyway.
Finally, it is much more costly to administer an estate without a will than it is an estate with a will. Your attorney will spend much more time in court arguing issues such as those mentioned above and many other issues that may come about because the will does not specify what should occur.
In short, all individuals should have a will to prevent any of these issues from occurring after their death. The attorneys at Skeeters, Bennett, Wilson & Pike suggest you have the tough conversations now. It’s worth it for those you love.
Terry joined the practice in 1974. His areas of focus include personal injury law, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, business law, corporations, and adoptions. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, United States District Court Western District of Kentucky, United States Court of Military Appeals, and all Kentucky courts.
A Hardin County native and former Army office in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Terry graduated from William and Mary in Virginia with an undergraduate degree in government. He received his Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest Law School in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he graduated with honors.