Do I Need a Will?

One of the most frequent things I hear from potential clients is “I don’t have much, so I don’t need a will.” If you do not have substantial assets, then you may be wondering if this is true. Read More


All about probate, part 2

Editor’s note: This is the second of two blog posts exploring probate: what it is, how it works and what Kentucky law has to say about this process. You can read the first in the series here. By Leah Morrison, Attorney English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP Leah Morrison, attorney Probate is one of those things that people universally dismiss as an unduly burdensome process. In fact, many clients tell me they need a will or estate plan so that they can avoid probate. Outside of the small estate scenario that we explored in the first blog post, Kentucky law provides additional mechanisms for avoiding probate. Not everyone has a Will. Perhaps most often people do not want to write one because they don’t want to think about dying, or they plan to write one and simply put it off. Some purposefully choose intestacy. Even without any planning not all assets owned by the decedent are subject to the probate process. Probate assets include everything the decedent owned in his or her individual name. These can include: bank accounts; brokerage accounts; real estate held in the decedent’s individual name or in a tenancy in common; vehicles; furniture; jewelry; and an interest in a partnership, corporation, or limited liability company. Read More


Do you really need a will?

By Heather Coleman Brooks Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP Heather Coleman Brooks Death and taxes. Both inevitable, both made easier when a plan is in place. You deal with your taxes annually, but how often do you consider whether you have made the proper plans for your estate? If you do not have substantial assets, you may be wondering if it is really necessary for you to have a will. To decide if it is right for you, consider what happens if you fail to make a plan. In Kentucky, if you die without a will, your assets will pass according to the laws of intestacy. The courts will divide your assets among your heirs according to the priorities directed by Kentucky statutes. Sometimes, this has unintended consequences.   Read More


Guilty Plea in Criminal Court applies to Kentucky fatal car accident case

By Kyle Roby, attorney English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP Even car accident cases that seem simple in the beginning can grow complicated very quickly. In a recent Kentucky fatal car accident case, who was driving the car at the time of the accident was the legal question. The alleged operator of a car involved in a fatal collision accused his passenger of being behind the wheel, even after the operator had pled guilty to manslaughter in criminal court. It was up to the trial court - and the court of appeals, on review - to decide whether the issue was to be resolved by judicial admission or by the jury at trial. Read More


A couple’s marital status determines who gets the estate

By Nathan Vinson, Attorney English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP Facebook has a neat little box that you can check to indicate your relationship status. There are some options that are clear cut – or at least seem to be: married, divorced, single. There’s another option that’s becoming more popular as of late called “it’s complicated.” It’s a handy box to check when life is messy. Unfortunately, though, there’s no “it’s complicated” box to check in legal documents. In the eyes of the law, you’re either single, legally separated or married. There’s no in-between for marital status. The lives of Luther and Shirley Mills definitely fell under the “it’s complicated” category, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on whether or not the couple was legally married at the time of Luther’s death. At stake was Luther’s estate. ' Read More


Tips from a Kentucky estate lawyer: how to pass on memorabilia and collections in your estate

Many people collect all kinds of things, and these collections come to hold tremendous sentimental and in some cases monetary value. As people age, they begin to think about who they would like to have certain items or entire collections, and sometimes, bold relatives or friends suggest they'd like to receive something special to remember you by. Gifts and promises of gifts are also made to honor a special relationship. These type of collections can cause significant arguments after you are deceased. The best way to avoid such disputes is to clearly specify in writing exactly who is to receive what items. Verbally telling a relative or friend what you would like for them to have upon their death, and giving away significant items while you're still living, causes confusion and prompts some to get greedy. It's the last thing anybody wants after they're gone.   Read More


Estate Planning: Social Media and the Digital Age

Social media accounts include Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Foursquare, Vine and many others. Virtually everyone these days has some variety of social media accounts, whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or some other form of social media (the list appears to be never-ending).  Encompassing more than just social media, nearly everyone has Internet and other electronic accounts that require maintained passwords to access.  What happens to a person’s social media accounts when that person dies?  Who has a right to access the password-maintained accounts?  Fortunately, these issues are starting to receive attention and are being addressed. Facebook now allows its members to designate a “legacy contact” to manage the deceased persons account (to some degree) posthumously, a feature just added a few short months ago.  Facebook's newsroom states: Facebook is a place to share and connect with friends and family. For many of us, it’s also a place to remember and honor those we’ve lost. When a person passes away, their account can become a memorial of their life, friendships and experiences. Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to: Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message) Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook Update the profile picture and cover photo If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages. Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death. Read More


Workers’ Compensation versus Uninsured Motorists provisions: which one applies?

A 2011 accident involving a tree-trimming crew resulted in the death of one worker and injuries to another. The Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on a lawsuit concerning the accident after it was appealed from Warren County Circuit Court in Bowling Green, Kentucky. You can read the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling in the case here: The accident involved three men: James Coleman, Davison Crocker, and Dale Cherry, all of whom were employed by A&G Tree Service, Inc., which is located in Leitchfield, Kentucky. In August 2011, they were sent to a job site in Tennessee, and traveled together to the job site in a company vehicle. On the way back, an accident occurred that took the life of Cherry and injured Crocker. The employment handbook for A&G indicates that their employees are considered to be at work once they arrive at the site where their work is to occur. The workers may use company vehicles for their convenience and carpooling is permitted. After the accident, Crocker received workers' compensation benefits, and Cherry's estate received workers' compensation death benefits. Crocker sued Coleman and his personal insurance carrier, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, arguing that Coleman's negligent driving had caused the accident. Progressive argued that workers' compensation should be the sole source of benefits for Coleman and Cherry's estate, but Crocker argued that the men were not on the clock, so tort relief was also possible. The Warren County Circuit Court did not agree. Kentucky law says that the either an employee may recover workers' compensation benefits, if in fact their injury occurred while the employee was on the job, or the worker may recover tort damages if the employee was not on the clock at the time of the injury or damages, but the person may not recover both. Read More