If you've been putting off estate planning, you're certainly not alone. For some, the mere thought of making a will may be depressing. The task of putting together all the pieces—powers of attorney, advance directives, and so on—may seem overwhelming. Having a will and other future-planning components in place can give you peace of mind, however, so you can get on with enjoying the here and now. Here are some guidelines about how estate planning works in Kansas.
You Will and What to Include in It
You probably already know that if you own property or assets, you should have a will, even if the value of your estate seems small. Without a will, the state gets to decide who gets what. Not only might this differ from your own preferences, but the process can be lengthy and costly. Making a will gives you the opportunity to make important decisions about things such as:
- How your assets are distributed and to whom
- Provisions for minor children or other dependents
- Who will be the executor of your estate
After you've made out your will, it's important to review and update your will periodically.
How Probate Works in Kansas
The process by which an estate is settled is called probate. It can be lengthy, complex, and confusing—especially if a person dies intestate, meaning that he or she left no will. Avoiding or minimizing the hassles of probate is often a high priority in estate planning. Fortunately for Kansas residents, there are ways to get around it, such as:
- Securing assets in a living trust
- Joint ownership of property, in which both parties have survivorship rights
- Payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations on accounts, securities, real estate, vehicles, and other assets
Smaller estates may qualify for a simplified probate process in Kansas.
Financial Power of Attorney
Estate planning is not only about making arrangements for after your passing. It's also a good time to consider contingency plans if there should come a time when you're unable to make important decisions or take actions on your own. For money matters, you can set up financial power of attorney, designating someone else to make financial moves on your behalf under certain circumstances.
Health Matters and End-of-Life Care
No one wants to think about becoming too ill or injured to make decisions about medical care. But making your preferences regarding things such as end-of-life care can spare your family a lot of stress in the event that something does happen. Living wills or advance directives are documents that detail how you want certain situations handled. You might also designate someone to make medical decisions for you if you should become unable to make them yourself. This is called a medical power of attorney.
Other elements of your estate plan may include a comprehensive life insurance policy, pre-arrangements for your funeral or burial, and provisions for pets. No two estate plans are exactly he same. Your attorney can help tailor a plan to fit your situation.
How a Kansas Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help
Estate planning is complex, and so are the federal and state laws relating to it. Even small oversights can cause big problems later on. Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone. Plan for your and your family’s future with the help of a Kansas estate planning lawyer, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in good order.