Gerner & Kearns Co., L.P.A.

Kentucky and Ohio: Differences in real estate law - P. 1

In some places, the state lines are set by surveyor's plot lines. In Northern Kentucky, the Ohio River stands as a physical separator with our neighbor to the north. Another separator is their differing laws, including those for facilitating real estate transactions.

Cross-border buying and selling of property is significant in this region because of the proximity of Cincinnati. But it can be complicated because Kentucky and Ohio have different ways of handling the transfer processes. Working with experienced legal counsel makes for smoother dealings. In this post and the next, we will try to highlight differences and similarities between these two states' laws. We start with Kentucky.

A lot of diverse steps must be properly completed for real estate deals to reach fruition. Here are several key things to know for Kentucky in this regard.


Foundational to a deal is a purchase agreement. This document must include a description of the property, but it doesn't have to be greatly specific. For a more detailed description, the law requires a deed that includes the following details:

  • Full names and addresses of both seller and buyer
  • A statement on what was paid or the fair cash value of the property
  • The signatures of both the seller and the buyer

In addition to that, the deed and any mortgage associated with the transfer must contain the source and date of title on the property.

Transfers by means other than sale

Of course, real estate doesn't have to be sold to change hands. Estate planning instruments allow for transfers by survivorship or trusts. Where the former is used, it can affect the form of title that applies. In a joint tenancy title, two or more owners hold equal share in the property. If one party dies, the property rights transfer automatically to the survivor(s). A tenancy by the entirety is another form of survivorship only available to validly married couples.

Property held in trust can also be transferred without a sale. Kentucky law limits such arrangements through blind or disclosed trusts and they must be recorded with the clerk in the county where the property is located.

This is not intended to be a thorough exploration of Kentucky real estate law, merely a glance. Consult an attorney to learn more.

Next time, we will look at Ohio laws and how they differ from Kentucky. 

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