Estate planning presents different challenges to each person who makes an estate plan. Some adults find themselves approaching the estate planning process wondering what their estate plan will look like because they do not have any children or heirs. This situation is challenging not only for determining what to do with the assets they have worked to acquire but also in deciding whom to entrust with critical personal matters like health care directives and powers of attorney.
The first step in estate planning, whether or not you have heirs, is making a will. If someone dies intestate (without a will), their assets will be distributed by the state probate court system according to the laws of intestate succession. In Kansas, the probate court will first look for family members when it must distribute the estate of a person who died without a will and without a spouse or children. If the parents of that person are still living, parents are first in line for that inheritance, followed by siblings or descendants of siblings. If no living relatives can be located, the estate escheats to the state of Kansas, which means that the state gets the entire contents of the estate. It is likely that you’d like your estate to be handled in a way that is different than it would be under the laws of intestate succession, and making a will is the way to ensure that your wishes, not the state’s, are followed after you pass away.
If you’re in the position of making an estate plan, you have a great deal of creative freedom. If you have causes or interests that are important to you, charitable giving may be a good focus for your estate plan. Gifts can take many forms, from endowments and scholarship funds to gifts for equipment or supplies that organizations need for their work. The possibilities for charitable giving through estate planning are many, and your estate planning attorney can help you takes the ideas that you have and turn them into a plan that will benefit the organizations of your choosing in a way that honors your wishes.
Selecting trustworthy individuals to serve as agents for health care directives or powers of attorney can be difficult for adults who do not have living relatives or whose relatives are not the people that they would like making those decisions for them. Your estate planning attorney can help you identify people in your life who might be good choices for those roles, and they can also guide you in having conversations with those people about taking on the role of an agent. Identifying and naming agents may not be easy, but you will experience peace of mind in knowing that the care of your health and finances are not left up to chance or the law.
Your estate planning attorney can help you draft your will, and they can also help you create any other documents that you’ll need to accomplish your estate planning goals. If you’re unsure of your estate planning goals, an estate planning attorney can help you understand what estate planning goals are and give you information that can guide you in defining some for yourself.
Begin the Kansas estate planning process or pick up where you’ve left off by scheduling an initial consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber. Please call our office at 316-265-7802, or contact us through our website.