News from the Kentucky General Assembly

Written by Jim Worthington on May 3, 2020

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2020 session led to several new laws that affect trust and estate planning and administration. It’s time to look at how those changes will affect us since the chapter on this year’s legislation is closed; the 2020 Regular Session ended by adjourning sine die on April 15th. Today’s post covers two straightforward topics and refers back to my earlier discussion of a bigger change. A future blog post will be devoted entirely to adoption of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act. 

Effective Date

All non-emergency legislation becomes effective on July 15, 2020. The Kentucky Attorney General’s office issued its annual opinion, Ky OAG 20-08, on April 16, 2020, precisely calculating the effective date. I’ve always loved the almost mystical reference to legislation being effective the first moment—not one minute or even one second past midnight— after 90 days has elapsed. (See last year’s opinion, Ky OAG 19-005 (April 9, 2019), for the “first moment” language.) 

Increased Spousal or Children’s Exemption

House Bill 307 increased the spousal or children’s exemption in KRS 391.030 from $15,000 to $30,000. The increase will help many families avoid probate of a single asset, like a car that’s worth $25,000. Unfortunately, Kentucky still doesn’t have a true small estate procedure. That means that parents whose unmarried children pass away still must go through a full-blown probate no matter how small the estate is. I’ve seen first-hand how painful it is for parents who have lost a child to have to go through probate for assets worth only a few thousand dollars. 

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act

A previous blog post discussed the legislature’s changes to powers of attorney by:

  • o adopting a statutory short-form power of attorney;
  • o adopting the broad, well-defined powers of the Uniform Power of Attorney Act; 
  • o specifying the power of an agent to make gifts; and
  • o repealing the two-witness requirement.

Stay tuned to the Legal News section of this website for more discussion of the new laws affecting the services that Kentucky estate and trust professionals provide their clients.