Does Kentucky allow transfer on death deeds?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Probate

The state of Kentucky does not recognize the transfer-on-death deed, also known as a beneficiary deed. Therefore, property owners in Kentucky do not have the option to use TOD deeds to transfer their property to designated beneficiaries upon their death.

Unless people make other arrangements, their Kentucky property will go through probate when they die.

Why Kentucky does not allow TOD deeds

While TOD deeds can be a simpler alternative to probate in some states, Kentucky’s legal framework instead prioritizes the reliability and integrity of property transfers over their ease of transfer. This approach reflects a preference for formal legal processes that provide greater protection against fraud.

How Kentucky transfers property

When a loved one dies in Kentucky, the process of transferring property differs from states that allow TOD deeds in that the property of the deceased typically goes through the probate process. Probate involves proving the validity of the will, if there is one, and distributing the assets according to the will or state law if there is no will.

The family’s role in probate

In Kentucky, the probate process does not start automatically upon the death of a loved one. Instead, an interested party, such as a family member, usually initiates it. If the deceased person had a will, the executor named in the will handles initiating the probate process. If there is no will, or if the named executor is unable or unwilling to serve, an interested party can petition the court to be the administrator.

The court’s role

Once the probate process begins, the court oversees the administration of the estate, including the collection of assets and payment of any debts and taxes the deceased owed. After the estate pays these, the court distributes the remaining assets according to the will or state law.

The probate process can be complex. For this reason, some people take steps before death to avoid it through strategies such as creating a revocable living trust or holding property jointly with rights of survivorship.