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How Will Your Financial Legacy Be Handled in Kansas If You Do Not Have a Will or Trust?

Weber Law Jan. 5, 2015

While many people put off estate planning, there are good reasons not to procrastinate about important decisions regarding legacy succession, tax avoidance, creditor protection, dignified end of life medical planning and other critical issues.  If you postpone the process of setting up at least a basic estate plan, your legacy will be distributed to your heirs and/or beneficiaries based on Kansas intestacy law.  While a will or trust permits you to decide how your assets are distributed to your loved ones when you die, state intestacy law applies pre-designated priorities that a probate judge will follow when overseeing disposition of your estate.

While certain assets subject to a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) designation are exempt from intestacy rules, the balance of an individual’s assets pass under intestacy law in the absence of a will or trust.  Examples of assets that often are exempt from Kansas intestacy law include documents like life insurance policies and saving accounts.

If you pass away without a will or trust, your assets that are not exempt from intestacy law will transfer to your loved one according to the following priorities:

Married with Children: If you die intestate, half your estate will pass to your spouse while the other half will pass to your children.  While this arrangement might be acceptable for some people, it might not conform to your particular preferences regarding the disposition of your legacy.  For example, many people in this scenario want their surviving spouse to inherit and control their entire estate before it passes to their children upon the death of their spouse.

  • Single with children: The decedent’s assets pass to the children.

  • Married without children:  All assets pass to the surviving spouse.

  • No children or spouse with living parents: The entire legacy passes to your parents.

  • Siblings but no surviving spouse, children or parents: Assets pass to your siblings.

Because the judge generally must comply with these simplistic formulaic rules, the lack of even a basic estate plan can frustrate your intentions and threaten the financial security of your loved ones.  Despite this unwelcome outcome, almost six in ten people die intestate.

Every adult should have at least a basic will or living trust to ensure that family and other loved ones have the financial resources to preserve their standard of living.  Estate planning also can help reduce tax liabilities and probate expenses that can diminish the value of your legacy.  If you have a financial legacy that took a lifetime to build, it should be distributed to family, loved ones and/or charitable organization based your preferences rather than state law.

If you have questions about estate planning issues, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you about an estate plan suited to your needs and goals.  We invite you to call the Weber Law Office, P.A. or submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.