The Comprehensive Guide to Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning, and Inheritance Litigation

Who Are Next Of Kin In Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the term “next of kin” is often used synonymously with the term “heirs.”  Next of kin heirs for purposes of intestate inheritance in Kentucky are generally the:

  1. Surviving spouse
  2. Children and descendants
  3. Parents
  4. Siblings
  5. Grandparents
  6. Aunts and Uncles
  7. Great Grandparents

Who Is Next Of Kin For Intestate Inheritance In Kentucky?

When someone dies intestate (without a valid will), the laws of Kentucky govern who inherits from the decedent’s estate.  The next of kin that are in line to inherit under Kentucky’s intestate inheritance laws depend on the other survivors of the decedent:

Survivors of the Decedent

Inheritance of Intestate Estate

Surviving spouse only

–          100% to spouse

Children, no surviving spouse

–          100% to children

Spouse and children

–          Spouse inherits ½ of personal property

–          Spouse inherits ½ of real property

–          Remainder split evenly between decedent’s children

Spouse and parents, but no children

–          Spouse inherits ½ of personal property

–          Spouse inherits ½ of real property

–          Remainder split evenly between decedent’s parents

Spouse and siblings, but no children or parents

–          Spouse inherits ½ of personal property

–          Spouse inherits ½ of real property

–          Remainder split evenly between decedent’s siblings

Parents, but no children or spouse

–          100% to parents

Siblings, but no parents, children, or spouse

–          Estate split evenly between decedent’s siblings

Grandparents, but no siblings, parents, children, or spouse

–          Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal grandparents

Aunts and uncles, but no grandparents, siblings, parents, children, or spouse

–          Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal aunts and uncles

Great-grandparents, but no aunts and uncles, no grandparents, siblings, parents, children, or spouse

–          Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal great-grandparents

Great-aunts and great-uncles, but no great-grandparents, no aunts and uncles, no grandparents, siblings, parents, children, or spouse

–          Estate split evenly between paternal/maternal great-aunts and great-uncles

These laws can be found in Chapter 391 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, specifically sections 391.010, 391.020, and 391.030.

What Does A Next Of Kin Intestate Heir Inherit Under Kentucky Law?

A next of kin intestate heir in Kentucky inherits assets from the decedent’s probate estate.  The probate estate does not automatically include every asset that the decedent owned at death.

If a decedent had non-probate assets, such as bank accounts with pay-on-death beneficiary designations or jointly titled accounts, these assets would pass to the named survivor, not the probate estate for distribution to next of kin heirs.  For an illustration of probate v. non-probate assets, see the Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.

Do Children Born Out of Wedlock Inherit From Their Parents?

Yes, under Kentucky law children born out of wedlock can inherit from both parents as next of kin heirs under the laws of intestate succession.

For the purposes of intestate succession, a child born out of wedlock is a child of the natural mother.  That child is also a child of the natural father if:

1. The natural parents participated in a marriage ceremony before or after the birth of the child, even though the attempted marriage is void; or

2. There has been an adjudication of paternity before the death of the father OR after the death of the father based upon clear and convincing proof.

This law can be found in Kentucky Revised Statutes §391.105.

A Kentucky probate lawyer can help you determine your rights as a next of kin heir under Kentucky law.