Estate Planning includes traditional plans (wills and trusts), planning for probate avoidance (transfer on death and pay on death), incapacity (durable powers of attorney), estate tax and gift tax minimization, wealth preservation and wealth transfer strategies. It may also include the creation of business entities to preserve family assets, private contractual arrangements and post- and pre-marital planning.
Whether simple or more complex, a will contains instructions for the manner in which your executor conducts the probate proceeding at your death and instructions for the transfer of your property. It may include tax planning, asset protection planning, and trusts for minors or those with special needs. Kansas wills have formal requirements which, if not met, render the will invalid.
Trusts, one of the most popular probate avoidance tools, are as varied as the individuals for whom they are designed. We can help you sort through the options—revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, supplemental needs trust, life insurance trusts, just to name a few—that are most appropriate for your plan. In addition to controlling the transfer of your property at death, a revocable trust may be an effective tool for managing your property in the event of incapacity.
In addition to outright gifting to charity or naming a college or university as a beneficiary of your estate, there are many types of charitable planning techniques that serve not only to save your estate from taxes, but also leave a legacy or opportunity for your family to continue your philanthropic objectives after you are gone.
Special Needs Planning
The opportunities to plan for beneficiaries with special needs becomes more and more restricted each year. Certain strategies must be employed and considered when structuring bequests or gifts to those with special needs or who are otherwise qualified for public assistance benefits.
Estate Administration (Probate)
The legal and financial aspects of transferring property in Kansas at death can be confusing and complex. Kansas has many alternatives when persons are faced with assets that were owned by an individual at death without beneficiaries designated (or utilizing other types of property ownership that would avoid probate). In a probate proceeding, typically an executor or administrator is appointed to manage the proceeding and to give requisite notice prior to final distribution. Estate administration may also encompass title transfer by means other than a probate proceeding. Estate administration may include locating heirs, beneficiaries and assets, determining the disposition of assets, managing investments, settling claims, paying approved expenses, filing tax returns, preparing accountings and oversight of distributions.
Trust administration includes the legal and financial aspects of trust management. The Trustees must follow the complex Kansas laws in managing trust assets, making distributions and balancing the interests of the beneficiaries. Trust administration may include locating heirs, beneficiaries and assets, determining the disposition of assets, making discretionary distributions, managing investments, settling claims, filing tax returns, preparing accountings and oversight of distributions. Trust administration is typically conducted without Court oversight.
Guardianships and Conservatorship
Kansas law provides for the appointment of a guardian of a person and a conservator of the property of a person when such person is incapacitated or a minor, or both. Sometimes having an agent under a durable general power of attorney or a durable power of attorney for health care decisions may not be enough. This legal proceeding makes a determination as to a person’s ability to handle his or her own financial affairs and/or health care decisions, and appoints someone to manage such person’s business or health care. The guardian or the conservator, or both, is required to account and report to the Court annually on the financial condition and the physical status of the ward or conservatee.