There are four main items that most estate planning clients need in Kentucky, and they are: will, healthcare directive, living will, and advance directive, and durable power of attorney.
1. Will. A will is a document which addresses payment of debts of the estate along with disbursement of the remaining real and personal property of the estate. A will should name an Executor (male) or an Executrix (female) to effectuate the will provisions. Upon death, the original of the will along with a copy must be filed with the Probate Court to start the process. A hearing will be set for the Executor/Executrix to be appointed by the Court. The law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky requires six months to pass before the estate can be closed. It is important to note that a Guardian or Guardians for minor children can be named in the Will.
2. Durable Power of Attorney. Unlike a will, the durable power of attorney is effective prior to death. If a person becomes incapacitated or is simply unable to handle their business affairs then the durable power of attorney can act on behalf of the incapacitated individual. The scope of the powers given is addressed in the durable power of attorney. The durable power of attorney gives the named individual the power to sign or execute normal business documents including but not limited to signing checks and Social Security forms.
3. Advance Directive/Living Will/Healthcare Proxy/Medical Power of Attorney/Healthcare Directive. These terms are sometimes substituted for each other, but the basic difference is the living will addresses the pre-designated medical decisions of the individual who has become unable to make medical decisions while the healthcare proxy/medical power of attorney is a person you designate to make decisions regarding your medical care if you are permanently or temporarily unable to make medical decisions for yourself. It does not matter whether the living will and healthcare proxy/medical power of attorney/heathcare directive are put together in one document or separated into two documents. The advance directive is normally the title of the document which addresses both the living will and healthcare proxy/medical power of attorney.