Always Prepared to Answer Your Questions
1. Do I Need an Attorney to Set Up an Estate Plan?
It is always a good idea to consult an attorney when setting up an estate plan. An estate planning attorney will be able to assist you and make sure the document created and executed meets your needs and is in compliance with laws of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
2. What if Minors are Involved?
When minors are involved in estate planning, it is a good idea to consult an attorney to provide safeguards for the benefit of the minors. By law, a minor cannot inherit money until they are age 18 and must be held in trust until they have obtained the age 18 or older depending on a number of factors. You may even desire that the minors in your estate plan not receive their inheritance until a specific age after 18 years when you feel it would be most appropriate for them to handle a sizeable amount of wealth. If you have very young children, Stone Legal Group, PLLC can help you set up a plan to preserve your estate so that it provides the biggest and best benefit for your minor children. You will also want to put into place a plan on who will care for your minor children should you pass before they become emancipated.
3. I’m Married, Doesn’t My Spouse Automatically Get Everything?
No. If you do not have proper estate planning in place, in the Commonwealth of Kentucky your spouse is 4th in line under the intestate succession of law. Therefore, if you want your spouse to receive all or a portion of your estate, it is imperative to have an estate plan instituted to provide for same.
4. What Other Documents Should I Consider for My Estate Plan?
There are a number of documents that should be a part of one’s estate plan. In addition to Wills and Trusts, a Durable Power Of Attorney, Living Will and Health Care Surrogate Designation, and Health Care Power of Attorney are documents that should be in everyone’s estate plan.
5. How Does Divorce Affect or Work with Estates?
If you have gone through a divorce, it is important that you have your estate plan reviewed. Under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there are certain provisions for spouses that are void and no longer applicable in the event of a divorce. As a result, the ex-spouse is treated as a non-relative for purposes of inheritance tax and must pay the highest inheritance tax rate if anything is left to them. If you want to leave an item or money for your children, it is unwise to leave it to your ex-spouse as you have no guarantee that it will go for the benefit of your children.
6. What Exactly is Probate? How Does it Work?
Probate is a Court set up to handle the administration of a deceased person’s affairs. If there is a Will which names someone to serve as an Executor or Executrix, that person will be appointed by the Court to wrap up the deceased person’s business. If there is no Will, then someone must petition the Court to be appointed as an Administrator or Administratrix. These individuals are responsible for gathering the assets of the deceased, paying the bills and distributing the assets that remain to the heirs. There is a mandatory six month waiting period in a probate before any assets can be distributed to the heirs. It is best to have an attorney assist in the administration as there are numerous requirements which must be fulfilled. Failure to fulfill the requirements can result in your being removed as the Executor/Administrator and possibly fined by the Court.
7. I used online services to produce a Power of Attorney and Will, are they really legal?
Most online services are not state specific despite what they advertise. In the fine print it states they are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. They further tell you that they cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. In other words you are just guessing whether or not you have selected the right document for your needs. If you would like to have your online estate plan reviewed, please contact us for a free 15 minute review.
8. I am in a Domestic Partnership. Do I need to make special provisions for my partner?
If you are in a Domestic Partnership, there are no provisions under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that will automatically provide for your partner without proper estate planning. It is essential that a well-crafted estate plan be put into place to protect your domestic partner and your estate.
9. How can I avoid some or all estate taxes?
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there is no inheritance tax owed so long as your beneficiaries are “Class A”. If they fall into any other class, the tax rate depends on their relationship to you, if any. In regards to federal estate taxes (which are separate from state taxes), the tax is assessed against the full value of the estate once it exceeds threshold in effect at the time of the death of your death.
10. Can I avoid probate?
Probate can be avoided if proper estate planning documents have been put into place to accomplish same and all steps required have been completed to fulfill the terms of plan. The reason to avoid probate in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is to keep your information private (i.e. assets, beneficiaries, etc.), as the probate process is public record.
11. Can I have a Power of Attorney only for health care matters?
Yes. A Power of Attorney with restrictions for health care matters only can provide the designated person with the appropriate authority to handle your medical needs in the event that you cannot.
12. My child is going off to college. Are there any legal documents that I should have in place?
Once your child turns 18, under HIPAA regulations you are not entitled to receive any information about their health care without written authorization. If your child is away at college and requires medical attention, without written authorization such as Health Care Power of Attorney or HIPAA Release form, you will not be able to get any information form the medical provider(s).
13. What is the difference between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust?
Revocable Trust is one that can be revoked at time during your lifetime, whereas an Irrevocable Trust cannot. There are benefits to each type of trust, and there are numerous variations for each type of trust depending on your goals.
14. Is a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement right for me?
A Pre-Nuptial Agreement is executed prior to marriage, and a Post-Nuptial Agreement is executed after a marriage takes place. Both documents can provide asset protection, address the issue of alimony (known as maintenance in the Commonwealth of Kentucky), and/or provide what your spouse would receive upon your death. Whether it is your first, second or third marriage, it is wise to have a Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreement to protect the assets you have accumulated prior to the marriage.