Kentucky Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Kentucky

Note:    This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of the law of wills in Kentucky, but does include basic and other provisions. Hand written wills, or wills where the testator cannot sign his or her name are not included.

Persons competent to make – What may be disposed of: Any person of sound mind and eighteen (18) years of age or over may by will dispose of any estate, right, or interest in real or personal estate that he may be entitled to at his death, which would otherwise descend to his heirs or pass to his personal representatives, even though he becomes so entitled after the execution of his will. KRS Chapter 394.00

Minor can make will, when: No person under eighteen (18) years of age can make any will, except in pursuance of a power specially given to that effect, and except also, that a parent, though under eighteen (18) years of age, may by will appoint a guardian for his child. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.030.

Legislative History: (4826: amend. Acts 1964, ch. 21, § 5; 1974, ch. 386, § 86.)

Requisites of a valid will: No will is valid unless it is in writing with the name of the testator subscribed thereto by himself, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction. If the will is not wholly written by the testator, the subscription shall be made or the will acknowledged by him in the presence of at least two (2) credible witnesses, who shall subscribe the will with their names in the presence of the testator, and in the presence of each other. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.040.

Legislative History: (4828: amend. Acts 1978, ch. 85, § 1, effective June 17, 1978.)

Validity of an appointment by will in exercise of a power: No appointment made by will in the exercise of any power shall be valid, unless the same is so executed that it would be valid for the disposition of the property to which the power applies if it belonged to the testator; and every will so executed shall be a valid execution of a power of appointment by will, even if the instrument creating the power expressly requires that a will made in execution of such power be executed with some additional or other form of execution or solemnity. 394.070

Legislative History: (4829.)

Contract to make a will – Not to revoke will – Not to die intestate:

(1) A contract to make a will or devise, or not to revoke a will or devise or to die intestate, if executed after June 16, 1972, can be established only by:

(a) Provisions of a will stating material provisions of the contract;
(b) An express reference in a will to a contract and extrinsic evidence proving the terms of the contract; or
(c) A writing signed by the decedent evidencing the contract.

(2) The execution of a joint will or mutual wills gives rise to no presumption of a contract not to revoke the will or wills. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.540.

Legislative History: (Enact. Acts 1972, ch. 168, § 3.)

Revocation of will — How effected: No will or codicil, or any part thereof, shall be revoked, except:

(1) By subsequent will or codicil;
(2) By some writing declaring an intention to revoke the will or codicil, and executed in the manner in which a will is required to be executed; or
(3) By the person who made the will, or some person in his presence and by his direction, cutting, tearing, burning, obliterating, canceling, or destroying the will or codicil, or the signature thereto, with the intent to revoke. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.080

Legislative History: (4833: amend. Acts 1974, ch. 299, § 3; 1982, ch. 361, § 2, effective July 15, 1982; 1998, ch. 408, § 2, effective July 15, 1998.)

Nonrevocation of will by marriage of testator: A will shall not be revoked by the marriage of the person who made the will. KRS Chapter 394.090.

Legislative History: (4832: amend. Acts 1974, ch. 18, § 1; 1988, ch. 90, § 4, effective July 15, 1988; 1998, ch. 408, § 1, effective July 15, 1998.)

Effect of divorce or annulment of marriage of testator: If after executing a will the testator is divorced or his marriage annulled, the divorce or annulment revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian, unless the will expressly provides otherwise. Property prevented from passing to a former spouse because of revocation by divorce or annulment passes as if the former spouse failed to survive the decedent, and other provisions conferring some power or office on the former spouse are interpreted as if the spouse failed to survive the decedent. If provisions are revoked solely by this section, they are revived by the testator’s remarriage to the former spouse. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.092

Legislative History: (Enact. Acts 1982, ch. 361, § 1, effective July 15, 1982; 1990, ch. 450, § 4, effective July 13, 1990.)

Revival of a revoked will: A will or codicil, or part thereof, that has been revoked shall be revived only by reexecution or by a codicil executed in the manner required for making a will, and then only to the extent to which an intention to revive is shown thereby. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.100.

Legislative History: (4834.)

Will may be deposited with clerk for safekeeping: A will may be deposited by the person making it, or anyone for him, with the county clerk of the county of his residence for safekeeping, upon payment of a fee as provided for in KRS 64.012 to the clerk. The clerk shall receive, keep, and deliver the will according to the directions on a sealed envelope. If there are no such directions, or the party entitled does not apply, the will shall be handed to and opened by the District Court, after the death of the testator, and there retained for probate. KRS Chapter 394.00, 394.110

Legislative History: (4865: amend. Acts 1976 (Ex. Sess.), ch. 14, § 354, effective January 2, 1978; 1978, ch. 84, § 23, effective June 17, 1978.)


Inside Kentucky Last Will and Testament Law