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How to Leave Real Estate in a Will

November 16th, 2022 by Bunch & Brock

How to Leave Real Estate in a Will

If You Own Real Estate in Kentucky, You Need a Will

When you own property in Kentucky, you should prioritize making a plan for the future of your property upon your passing. An estate plan can detail what happens to your real estate at the time of your death.

A will is a crucial part of an estate plan, along with other legal documents, including trusts. A qualified estate planning attorney at Bunch & Brock can guide you through the process of generating the right estate plan for you.

What is a Will?

A will, also called a last will and testament, allows you to detail your intentions for the distribution of your property and assets upon your passing. Wills also include certain information, like who you’d like your personal representative to be.

When forming your estate plan, our estate planning lawyers get to know you and your goals and desires in order to create the most personalized plan. A will is an integral part of a strong estate plan, particularly when it comes to real estate, and it works well with other types of documents, like trusts.

How to Leave Real Estate in a Will

There are several ways to leave real estate to a beneficiary after your passing. Leaving your property to a beneficiary is commonly done using a will.

To leave your property to your chosen beneficiary, you’ll have to ensure you have a valid will. Kentucky laws dictate what makes a will valid, including the testator’s handwriting (pen to paper) and signed and dated, assuming that the writing is a clear intention of the person’s last instructions.

Leaving real estate in the will requires specifically naming the property and the beneficiary to which you intend to leave it. It is also wise to name alternate beneficiaries, in case your intended beneficiary is unavailable at the time of your death, either due to death or incapacity. You may also leave your property to multiple beneficiaries to share.

It is worth noting that wills are often probated in Kentucky upon the testator’s death. Probate requires your will to be submitted to the court. Your personal representative is in charge of handling your probate case, including maintaining your assets and property and overseeing their distribution when it comes time to do so. In this complex process, the expertise of a probate lawyer can be invaluable in guiding your personal representative through the legal nuances, ensuring your wishes are honored and the estate is managed efficiently.

Our estate planning attorneys can review your situation to determine whether leaving your real estate in a will is your best option. Because there are several avenues to take concerning property distribution, we can come up with the right plan for you and your beneficiaries.

Types of Property You Can Include in a Will

You can leave many types of property in a will. When it comes to real property, you can distribute any of the following through your last will and testament:

  • Houses
  • Condos
  • Land
  • Rental property
  • Vacation homes
  • Mobile homes.

Along with real property, you can also leave many other kinds of property in a will, including vehicles, businesses, and personal property.

Types of Property You Can’t Include in a Will

The question isn’t necessarily what types of property can you not include in your will; the better question is “what property is not affected by a will?”

As far as real estate goes, if any property is owned in “joint tenancy with a right of survivorship” or is in a living trust, including that property in your will would be irrelevant.

When a property is titled to joint tenants with a right of survivorship, it means upon one of the tenant’s passing, the property rights automatically transfer to the other owner. Therefore, ownership will transfer to the surviving joint tenant no matter what your will says.

Similarly, when a property is in a living trust, it will go to the intended beneficiary of the trust, regardless of what’s in your will.

Benefits of Putting Real Estate in a Trust

One of the best ways to transfer real estate upon your death is by setting up a trust. There are multiple types of trusts, and selecting the right one depends on your assets, property, and goals. Creating more than one trust may also be necessary.

A living trust, also called a revocable trust, is one of the most common kinds of trust. When you create a living trust, you’re creating a fiduciary relationship between your appointed trustee and your beneficiaries. Once you’ve passed, the trustee maintains the property and distributes it according to your instruction. Having a trust helps protect your beneficiaries and their rights to your property upon your death.

Trusts are strong tools to use in an estate plan because of their advantages. One of the most significant benefits of a trust is the ability to avoid probate. When you pass, instead of your property going through probate, it automatically goes to the trustee for distribution to your beneficiaries.

Wills and trusts can also work together to ensure that your last wishes are respected and the right beneficiaries get the property you intended for them to have.

Creating the Right Estate Plan for You

If you own real estate in Kentucky, you should definitely have an estate plan, including a will – and, potentially, trusts as well.

It can be challenging to determine what documents you need to include in your estate plan to cover all of your bases. Our estate planning attorneys are highly experienced with considering clients’ situations to figure out the best way to go about distributing property upon their death.

Depending on your needs, we may suggest a detailed will, but we may also recommend setting up a trust or multiple trusts. You can rely on our skills to create your ideal estate plan.

Let an Estate Planning Attorney Give You Proper Legal Guidance

Bunch & Brock has over three decades of experience providing clients with legal guidance regarding real estate and assets. Our team of estate planning attorneys is ready to help you plan for the future, giving you invaluable peace of mind.

Contact us today at (859) 254-5522 to schedule a consultation.

Attorney Matthew Bunch

Attorney Matthew BunchMatt handles complicated bankruptcies and debt restructuring in Chapters 11 and 13 for both individuals and companies. He has also negotiated with multiple creditors on behalf of his clients to avoid bankruptcy. Matt is the firm’s lead litigator and handles contract disputes, certain personal injury claims and general litigation. [ Attorney Bio ]