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Kansas Intestate Succession Laws Explained

Weber Law Sept. 12, 2020

Kansas intestate succession laws are designed to address the issue of an individual who owns property and then passes away without a will. Kansas intestate succession laws present the procedures and rules necessary to assist beneficiaries and the State when the estate is in probate.  In other words, when the decedent does not have a valid will, the fate of that person’s estate is spelled out in Kansas’ probate code.

According to recent studies, as many as sixty percent of Americans do not have a valid will.  Should you or your loved ones not have a valid will, it is helpful to understand the process of what happens when a Kansas resident owns property and then passes away without a valid will.

Kansas probate court follow the laws of intestate succession and this process can be very simple or very complicated depending on the circumstances and facts of the estate.  For example, the court will look at which parties stand to inherit part or all the decedent’s estate. Then the court will evaluate the assets in the estate.  If the decedent was married at the time of their passing and the decedent and their spouse do not have children, this is typically the most straightforward scenarios in intestate succession. In this example, the surviving spouse will inherit the decedent’s entire estate.  Should the decedent and the surviving spouse have children, usually the surviving spouse will receive one half of the estate and the surviving child or child will receive the other half in full or equally divided amongst the surviving children.

In some cases, the estate is a little more complicated.  for example, if one of the children have already passed away.  In this case, that child’s share will be equally divided per “stirpes.”  Per stirpes is a legal term that means a system of distributing the inheritance amongst several branches of a family instead of per capita, which means “to each individual.”

Kansas intestacy law does recognizes that not every intestate estate will fall into one of the aforementioned three scenarios. In estate matters that don’t fit the previously mentioned situations, surviving parents will be first in line to inherit the estate, and in equal shares.  In cases where there are no surviving parents, the deceased siblings or the descendants of their deceased siblings will inherit the estate “per stirpes.”  Lastly, in cases where there are no surviving family members, the decedent’s estate escheats to the State of Kansas.  This means that the State of Kansas will receive the decedent’s full estate as per the inheritance process below.

After the courts have determined those who are legally entitled to inherit part or all of the decedent’s estate, the next step is to put the estate through the probate process.  Only the assets that are part of the decedent’s probate estate goes through the probate process.  For example, assets such as an investment account will pass to named beneficiaries without being part of the probate process. Also, any debts that the decedent owed at the time they died are paid from the estate including any taxes the decedent may owe.  Once the payment of outstanding debts and taxes has been completed, whatever remaining assets are divided up according to the aforementioned laws of intestate succession.