top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Krueger

NO WILL? KANSAS’ “DEFAULT” ESTATE PLAN MAY LEAVE YOUR ASSETS TO THE WRONG BENEFICIARIES





Even though a will is relatively simple to create, studies consistently show that between 60% and two-thirds of adult Americans don't have a will.

 

Passing Away Without a Will

 

If you die in Kansas without a will or with will that is invalid, you are deemed to have died “intestate”. 

 

So you would think that you have passed away “without any estate plan”, right?  Actually, the answer is a resounding “no” – you just have subjected your estate to the default “Estate Plan of the State of Kansas”.  This means that the State of Kansas (and not you or your family) will have the final say who receives your assets and in what amounts. 


Probate in Kansas


Probate is simply the legal process where the ownership of an asset at someone’s death is “retitled” to the new owner (usually a family member or “heir”).  When someone dies with a will, the primary role of the probate court is to supervise the distribution of assets to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are respected.  In the event someone dies without a will, since the decedent did not make his or her wishes known, the probate court must take a more active and more involved role in overseeing the estate administration.

 

Rights of the Surviving Spouse

 

Surviving spouses are given strong inheritance rights under the Kansas inheritance laws.  When a decedent is survived by only a spouse (no children or parents), the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate.  The same applies when a decedent is survived by a spouse and children, but all of the children are the children of both the decedent and the surviving spouse.

 

Rights of the Children

 

As stated above, if all of the surviving children are children of both the decedent and the surviving spouse, 100% of the estate passes to the surviving spouse and 0% of the estate passes to the decedent’s children.  However, when there are multiple children and some of the children are not from the decedent and surviving spouse’s marriage/relationship, what a decedent’s children will inherit varies.

 

Surviving Spouse with Children Related to the Decedent

 

If the decedent has at least one child that  is not the child of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse’s share of the estate is the first $150,000 and 50% of the balance of the estate.  The decedent’s children would inherit the balance of the estate.

 

Surviving Spouse with Children Related and Unrelated to the Decedent

 

If the decedent is survived by a spouse and all the decedent’s children are from the marriage/relationship of the decedent and the surviving spouse, but the surviving spouse has children from a prior relationship, the surviving spouse share in the estate is the first $225,000 of estate assets plus 50% of the balance of the estate.  The decedent’s children would inherit the balance of the estate.

 

Surviving Spouse with Surviving Parents

 

If the decedent is not survived by any children, but is survived by a spouse and parents, the surviving spouse’s share of the estate is the first $300,000 and 75% of the balance of the estate.  The decedent’s parents receive the remaining 25% of the estate.  If there is only one surviving parent, that parent would inherit the remaining 25% of the estate.

 

No Surviving Spouse

 

When the decedent is survived by children but no spouse, the decedent’s children inherit the entire estate per stirpes.  Under the per stripes rules, if a decedent has a deceased child and such deceased child has living children (the decedent’s grandchildren), the estate share that would have normally passed to the deceased child would instead go to any living children of the deceased child (again, the grandchildren of the decedent). 

 

When the descendent is survived by a parent or parents but no spouse or children, the decedent’s parents inherit the entire estate.  If both parents are living, the parents inherit the estate  in equal shares.  If there is only one surviving parent, that parent would inherit the entire estate.

 

No Surviving Spouse, Children, Descendants  or Parents

 

In the rare case that a decedent is not survived by a spouse, any children, any more remote descendants, or any parents, the decedent’s siblings and the siblings’ descendants would inherit the decedent’s estate.

 

In the extremely rare case that a decedent has no family members at all, the entire estate will be turned over the State of Kansas.

 

Additional Comments on Kansas Intestacy Laws


Adopted children are considered to be exactly the same under Kansas inheritance laws as biological children.

Any child born during a couple’s marriage is assumed to be their biological offspring. For any spouse who feels that may not be accurate, the State of Kansas requires that the child must be proven to be illegitimate.

In order to qualify to inherit any asset under Kansas intestacy laws, you have to outlive the survivorship period, meaning that you have to outlive the decedent by at least 120 hours. This element can be important when, for instance, spouses may be involved in the same accident or disaster.


Summary


Unless you pass away with a valid will, the State of Kansas will have the final say in who receives what with respect to your estate assets. 

In situations where there are children from a previous relationship, things can quickly get complicated and highly emotional, especially if the surviving spouse, children or heirs are unaware of the “split” required by Kansas law when the decedent left no will.



PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS REGARDING KANSAS’S INHERITANCE LAWS, OR IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE FOR AN ESTATE WITHOUT A WILL. 

5 views0 comments

Комментарии


bottom of page