Orwin & Fries has more than a 30-year history of building relationships, spending time getting to know you, your needs, and your legal concerns. If matters related to probate, wills, or estate planning arise, Orwin & Fries will already be in a position to proactively solve those problems.
Over the last century, our lifespans have lengthened due to the accessibility of healthcare, research about diets and longevity, and the implementation of safety measures in products, automobiles, and the workplace. In addition to these, the field of medicine has performed "miracles,” using state-of-the-art technology to restore quality of life and longevity to patients who otherwise wouldn’t have made it.
The debate over these measures is often divisive and bitter. When it comes down to it, each individual has different wishes as to whether heroic measures should be taken to prolong his or her life in certain circumstances. Because of this, legislatures across the country have enacted laws that allow an individual more control over the end of life, letting them officially deny or approve the use of specific procedures in a living will.
Many people, elderly or not, become incapacitated and cannot communicate sound decisions about the most important matters: life and death. The new laws provide for execution of "living wills.” Living wills are documents you prepare in advance that define the parameters of what can and cannot be done to you medically (for example, Do Not Resuscitate orders) in an emergency; some also designate a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
Given our extensive experience in estate planning, we can help you express your wishes clearly in a living will with minimal time and cost. This ensures that any judgment call made about prolonging your life aligns with your true intentions versus being the result of guesswork.
Last Will & Testament
Historically the term "will" related to real estate and the "testament" related to personal property.
These are hand-written wills. The handwriting of the testator provides evidence of authenticity, and some of the technical requirements, such as signature, are waived.
Self-probating or self-proving wills
These contain affidavits of witnesses and are executed before an office authorized to administer oaths. They are put in place to avoid Probate.
For an uncomplicated estate, a sample form can be completed by the testator. However, without knowledge of Kentucky law, it is easy to make regrettable mistakes.
At death, property is transferred automatically to a trust, to avoid probate.
Two persons leave all property to each other. A joint will also directs how the assets will be distributed when the second person dies.
Probate (The process of proving a will)
Probate comes from a Latin word meaning to test something. In this legal context, what’s being tested is the will a person leaves behind when he or she dies, and the instructions for distribution of that person's estate and other matters.
This is how it works:
- When someone dies, the court evaluates whether his or her will— if a will was written— is valid.
- The deceased person’s property is identified, inventoried, and appraised.
- All outstanding debts and taxes are settled and paid.
- The remaining property is then distributed to heirs as the will stipulates.
Each state, including Kentucky, has specific (and sometimes strict) rules on the way a will must be drafted and signed in order to become valid and legally binding. These rules are found in the Kentucky state statutes. The court system has always recognized the importance of one's last will and testament, and the orderly and fair distribution of property.
On the other hand, delaying distribution harms those who must wait and pay court costs in the interim. If a will is found to be valid, then real estate, personal property and even pets will be distributed according to the wishes stated in it.
Since probate is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive, you should do everything in your power to avoid it. In order for money or property to escape this process, it must not be legally part of the estate at the time of death.
Orwin & Fries can demystify the probate process for you and advise you on the best legal tools at your disposal. We will assist you throughout the probate process and even handle litigation if there are disputes among beneficiaries.
Contact Us Today at (606) 678-4386
With more than 30 years experience in the practice of law, we have served thousands of clients in south central Kentucky. Contact Orwin & Fries for an initial consultation. We offer you a mutually beneficial and long-lasting professional relationship.