Will Planning Lawyers in Topeka, KS
Most people in Topeka start their estate planning by preparing a will.
Will planning is a logical starting point because it addresses important questions: what you want to happen to your assets after you die, who you want to look after your affairs, and what happens to dependent children if you pass away.
Planning the solutions to these key issues early in life is much better than leaving it until it is too late. However, a will must be a legally enforceable document to be effective.
At Irigonegaray, Turney, & Revenaugh LLP in Topeka, our will planning lawyers can assist you in facing the future with more peace of mind.
What can I achieve with a will in Kansas?
By preparing a will (or a “last will and testament” to give it its full name) you are taking an important step to protect your family and your property if something should happen to you.
A will allows you to:
- Nominate people or organizations to inherit your property and other assets
- Nominate a trusted individual to manage your affairs after you die
- Name a personal guardian to take care of dependent children
- Name a person to manage property on behalf of your children
What happens if I don’t have a will in Kansas?
If you die with a will (“intestate”), you and your family may lose control of what happens to your assets and even who cares for your dependent children.
The Kansas courts will be required to apply the state’s intestacy laws to decide on behalf of a deceased person without a will.
Generally speaking, property is passed to your relatives in a specific order of priority. First in line are your spouse and children followed by grandchildren or parents. The list continues until distant relatives are included – up to the sixth degree of relation.
While this may, in fact, accurately reflect your wishes, there is no guarantee of this. Also, dying without a will often creates unnecessary delays and anxiety for those left behind. In the absence of any relatives, it could even risk the state taking your property.
Do you need a lawyer to make a will?
There is no legal necessity to make a will in Kansas – nor any necessity to hire a lawyer to do so.
However, you must ensure that your will is legally enforceable, which may require consultation with a lawyer.
This is especially the case if your estate is considerable in size or disputes are likely due to family dynamics.
Who can create a will and what are the legal requirements for signing?
If you are over the age of 18 and of sound mind, you are legally entitled to make a will in Kansas. You can also make a will if you are under 18 but “emancipated” by marriage.
There are some legal requirements to make a will valid. It must be in writing and:
- Signed by the person making the will or by a representative of this person
- Signed by two or more competent witnesses present at the signing of the will
Does my will need to be notarized in Kansas?
Your will does not need notarizing to make it legal in Kansas.
It must, however, be notarized if you opt for a “self-proving” will, which is your right in Kansas. A self-proving” will speeds up the probate process because no witnesses need to be contacted by the court.
To accomplish this, you and two witnesses simply sign your will in the presence of a notary.
Who should I name as executor in my will?
An important element of a will is to name a trusted individual to act as an executor of your will after you die.
This person will be responsible for ensuring that all of the provisions of your will are taken care of. Select this individual after careful thought, discuss it first, and inform the individual of the nomination.
Generally speaking, a close relative or friend is selected as an executor. If no executor is named, the probate court will appoint someone to administer your estate.
Can you change a will after it’s written?
A will can be revoked or amended at any time before your death, providing you have the mental capacity to do so.
People generally revoke a will either by destroying it, asking someone else to destroy it in front of them or by making a new will and stating that it replaces the previous one.
If you marry and have children after making a will, it is automatically revoked in Kansas. If you divorce, Kansas law may also revoke the rights or bequeathments to an ex-spouse.
To amend a will, speak to your estate planning lawyer at ITR Law, who will advise you on how to do this in a clear and legally binding way. Small changes can be made with codicils but these must also be witnessed.
Are handwritten/holographic wills valid in Kansas?
Handwritten or holographic wills are NOT legal in Kansas though they are in Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Is my out-of-state will valid in Kansas?
Kansas recognizes wills (even holographic wills) that are valid in the location where the testator lived either at the time of making the will or at his or her death. They must be signed by the testator.
Need help with will planning in Kansas?
There is a good reason why most people start estate planning by creating a will. It addresses many of the key issues that families must deal with after a loved one dies.
However, will planning often uncovers the need for other estate planning documents, such as powers of attorney, living wills, trusts, and so on.
Whether you need will planning advice alone or other estate planning guidance, our lawyers at ITR Law will listen to your objectives and provide an honest assessment of how to meet them.
Pedro Irigonegaray is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, professional and compassionate attorneys I have ever known. When you need legal advice or someone to fight for you, get the best. Talk to Mr. Irgonegaray.
Very helpful. Very friendly. Very personable. Even if you need to know which direction to go with your issue, they’ll help show you the way even if it means you don’t need to go through them. We need more kind people like this!
I have known Pedro for many years. A true gentleman, capable and ethical attorney. Glad to see the firm expand with more talented and ethical attorneys. A real asset to the Topeka legal community.
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