Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Kansas wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will), to create valid Kansas wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Kansas last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for a Kansas Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least the age of majority (currently 18 years of age)
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: A Kansas last will and testament must be signed by the testator, or another person under the testator's direction and presence may sign the will.
Witnesses: Two or more witnesses (who should not receive property under the will) must sign the will in the presence of the testator, and witness the signing of the Kansas last will and testament by the testator or the testator's acknowledgement of the will.
Writing: A Kansas last will and testament will must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Nuncupative Wills: An oral will made in the last illness of the testator will be valid in respect to personal property (not real estate in other words), if reduced to writing and subscribed by two witnesses (who do not receive property under the will) within thirty days after the speaking the oral will.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Kansas laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Kansas will form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Kansas will form may also be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
A will may pass on property to a charity.
A will may establish a trust for minor children or incapacitated persons.
A will may avoid disruption or loss of a business.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
A will may not exclude a spouse without the spouse's consent. However, children may be excluded.
Providing for Pets
Kansas laws recognize a trust that is created to provide care for pets after the owner's death. The trust ends when the pet dies. Our Kansas wills form can be used to provide for pets in this manner. The testator would have to create a pour-over will (known as a testamentary addition to the trust) that would mention the pet trust and designate the beneficiary as the trustee.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Kansas will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Kansas will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Kansas laws.
Revoking a Will
A Kansas will and testament may be revoked by a subsequent will, or by some other writing of the testator declaring such revocation or alteration and created with the same formalities of a will. A will that is burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the will, by the testator himself or herself or by another person in the testator's presence by his or her direction shall also revoke the will.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator's death, probate proceedings are started. Probate of a Kansas last will serves many purposes including:
1. Determining if the deceased left a valid Kansas last will.
2. Appointing an executor or administrator (surviving spouse, adult child, bank or trust company) to administer the estate of the deceased.
3. Collecting and determining all property and assets of the estate.
4. Protecting the property of the estate.
5. Providing a method of converting assets to cash for distribution to beneficiaries or payment of creditors.
6. Paying existing taxes and debts in a timely manner.
7. Determining those entitled to share in the estate and to distribute the property to the proper parties.
8. Transferring legal ownership of real estate and other property.
9. Keeping ongoing businesses running smoothly during the transfer period.
10. Extending the court's protection to the person who settles the affairs and distributes the property of the deceased.
Kansas laws have an estate tax for persons who died after July 1, 1998. The state taxes owed on the estate covered by a Kansas last will are calculated using these rules.
It is extremely important to make a Kansas will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Kansas laws.
For example, if you die leaving a spouse and no children, then your spouse receives the entire estate. If you leave children and no spouse, then the children receive the entire estate.
If you make a Kansas will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.