Inheritance Taxes In Kentucky Cases
"Under Kentucky law, federal estate taxes and Kentucky inheritance taxes are required to be shared proportionately by all of the beneficiaries in the absence of a specific direction in the will." Estate of Webber v. United States, 404 F.2d 411, 413 (6th Cir. 1968).
See also Louisville Trust Co. v. Walter, 306 Ky. 756, 207 S.W.2d 328 (1948).
However, "a testator may, if he elects so to do, shift the burden of taxation from the person or fund which is ordinarily liable under the law to some other person or fund of his choice." Gratz v. Hamilton, Ky., 309 S.W.2d 181, 182 (1958).
The testator's intent controls in this regard. Id. Further, the intention of the testator should be ascertained from the four corners of the will. Graham v. Jones, Ky., 386 S.W.2d 271, 273 (1965).
Also, in determining the intention of the testator, consideration must be given to what the testator meant by what he or she said rather than what the testator intended to say. Harlan National Bank v. Brown, Ky., 317 S.W.2d 903, 907 (1958).
In In re Wolinsky's Estate, 73 N.Y.S.2d 757 (1947), the testator established trusts for the benefit of a widow and two children and directed that the trusts be a first and primary charge upon the estate which would have priority over all other bequests in the will. Id. at 759.
a second bequest of similar importance was given a secondary priority to that of the trusts. When the residuary estate proved insufficient to pay all the taxes, the court turned to the clause which stated that the bequests "shall abate pro rata."
In holding that the preferred gifts must share in the apportionment of the taxes, the court held:
In the event that after segregating the preferred gifts the assets of the estate available for the payment of taxes are insufficient for that purpose the preferred gifts will be required to make a pro rata contribution to the extent necessary to meet the deficiency.
In respect of such contribution there will be no preference as between the gifts in trust and other preferred legacies since the priority in payment granted to the trusts is not a dispensation from the estate tax.
The trial court in the case sub judice held that "it is the ruling of this Court that payment based on a priority or preference status among beneficiaries, is not, unless so expressed in the will, a dispensation from the obligation to pay estate taxes, and the general rule requires apportionment."
See also Maurice T. Brunner, LL.B., Annotation, Construction and Application of Statutes Apportioning or Prorating Estate Taxes, 71 A.L.R.3d 247, 21(a) (1976), wherein it was stated as follows:
"The fact that a legacy may be preferred as to payment, either by direction of the testator or by operation of rules of law, does not entitle such legacy to escape a pro rata contribution to the payment of estate taxes which the residue is not sufficient to meet." Id. at pp. 339-40.