This is such a common part of the client mind map that I think it’s worth examining myths and realities of avoiding probate in Kentucky.
Myth: Probate is expensive, so avoiding probate saves money.
Reality: In Jefferson County, the filing fee to probate a Will and appoint an executor or administrator is $193. If $193 is not expensive for you, then probate’s not necessarily expensive.
Myth: Avoiding probate saves taxes.
Reality: Federal estate tax laws are agnostic about whether assets are included in the probate or non-probate estate.
Myth: My heirs will fight over my estate in probate, so if my estate isn’t probated, there won’t be a fight.
Reality: Non-probate assets such as transfer-on-death accounts cause some of the most bitter inheritance disputes.
Probate provides an organized process for wealth transfer, and the transparency and structure it offers sometimes prevents sibling discord from boiling over into litigation.
Myth: My privacy will be compromised when my estate is probated, so I should avoid probate.
Reality: The extent to which probate discloses your wealth and the way you transfer it to your beneficiaries is up to you. If you use a “pour-over” Will and a Revocable Trust, your distributions to beneficiaries can remain private.
If you fund your revocable trust (at least in part) while you’re living, the inventory filed for your probate estate won’t disclose the complete extent of your wealth.
In addition, non-probate assets also include life insurance and retirement accounts that are designated to beneficiaries other than your estate.
Even without any extraordinary efforts to avoid probate, this wealth will be “off the grid” for privacy purposes.