The state laws in Kentucky use a living will to determine how an estate gets managed after someone’s death. If a will doesn’t exist or can’t be found, then the deceased leaves their assets to be managed by the judicial system. Both probate and intestate happen after a person has passed. Knowing the differences between them can protect your assets and prepare the succession of your estate upon your passing.
Intestate—passing without a will
Dying without a will leads the courts to rule the assets of the deceased as intestate. Intestate is the default process that the state uses to disburse someone’s assets. In such cases, a state appointee, usually a relative, becomes the executor of the estate. The court sets this appointee to be responsible for the debts, taxes or outstanding bills of the deceased.
As for succession, if you died without a will, assets are distributed to your spouse first. Lacking a spouse, assets would go to any children that you may have. Lacking a spouse or children, your parents would inherit your estate. Finally, if your parents are not an option, any siblings that you have would inherit the estate.
Probate—authenticating an existing will
Every will is tested by a court of law during the process known as probate. This process is, legally, known as proving a will. This authentication process ensures that the requests made in a will don’t violate any law. The living beneficiaries of a will also get accounted for. If not, the probate becomes intestate.
Without clearly knowing the difference between probate and intestate, it’s possible to assume that a will isn’t necessary. With a closer look, however, you’re likely to see benefits in deciding now how your assets get managed later.