Whether you’re currently in the process of estate planning or a loved one has passed away and you stand to inherit property, it helps to understand some of the most basic inheritance laws in Kansas.

Amongst other matters, the Kansas inheritance laws cover what happens if there is a will/no will and how dependent spouses/children and other relatives are affected if a person dies intestate.

Does Kansas have an inheritance/estate tax?

Unlike many states in the U.S., Kansas does not collect any estate or inheritance tax, However, if you inherit property from another state, it may impose an inheritance tax on that property.

(Note: estate taxes are taken out of the deceased’s estate immediately after death while inheritance taxes are imposed upon the heirs after they have received their inheritance.)

What other tax filings are necessary in Kansas?

Just because there is no estate or inheritance tax in Kansas doesn’t mean that you can forget about taxes entirely after someone dies.

Depending on the nature and size of the deceased’s estate, you may need to arrange the following as a personal representative:

  • Final individual federal and state income tax returns: these must still be filed by the deadline of the year following the individual’s death.
  • Federal estate/trust income tax return: this is due by Tax Day of the year following the individual’s death.
  • Federal estate tax return: this is only for very large estates and is due nine months after the individual’s death (an automatic six-month extension is available if requested before the expiry date).

What happens when someone dies with a will in Kansas?

When someone who has made a will dies in Kansas, the will generally needs to be verified by the courts and pass probate before any property is distributed.

Handwritten wills are not valid in Kansas but oral or “nuncupativewills are valid for giving away personal property if they are spoken during the testator’s final sickness.

A written will must be signed in front of two eligible witnesses to be valid. If you make a will and then marry and have a child, your existing will is automatically revoked because inheritance rights for spouses and children take precedence.

The Kansas courts may also revoke elements in a will if you get a divorce, such as those that leave property to your spouse or name your spouse as the personal representative.

Some assets, such as jointly owned property or assets like insurance policies that have named beneficiaries, do not require probate. They can pass directly to the beneficiaries.

However, most assets held in the sole name of the deceased person require probate before being transferred to the beneficiaries named in a will.

If the funds in the estate are $40,000 or less, no probate is necessary and all that is required is an affidavit from the heir(s) and a copy of the death certificate.

A simplified probate process is also available in Kansas if the estate is larger than $40,000 but is relatively straightforward to administer — and the personal representative files a written request with the local probate court.

If approved, the personal representative can proceed to file an inventory and valuation of the property, pay final creditor claims and taxes, distribute the assets according to the will and file a closing statement explaining what has been done.

Dying without a will

If someone dies without a valid will in Kansas (also known as “intestate”), it can create problems and delays for the family of the deceased as the Kansas intestacy or succession laws will come into play.

The absence of a will means that no personal representative has been named to manage the estate. The court will need to appoint someone to execute the estate — usually a surviving spouse or adult child of the deceased. Only certain people can apply to be an executor in such situations.

Property will be passed to surviving members in strict order of priority when there is no will.

How do the Kansas inheritance laws affect your children?

If you die without a will and have children but no surviving spouse, your children will inherit your entire estate in equal part.

If, however, your spouse and children survive you, your spouse will inherit half of your intestate property and your children will inherit the other half in equal part.

If your children are adopted, it makes no difference to succession laws in Kansas — they have the same rights as any biological children. However, foster children and stepchildren who were never legally adopted by the decedent do not enjoy the same rights and are not eligible for a share of the estate.

Children born outside of marriage may need to prove parentage before being able to claim a portion of a decedent’s estate under Kansas law.

Grandchildren generally only receive a share if their parent is not alive to inherit their share.

How do the Kansas inheritance laws affect unmarried couples without children?

If there is no spouse and no children to pass an individual’s assets to after death, Kansas’ inheritance laws ensure that they stay in the family,

The order of priority outlined in the succession laws states that parents come first in line after the spouse/children. If there are siblings but no surviving parents, the siblings inherit the entire estate. Half-siblings are entitled to the same share of an estate as any other sibling.

The state of Kansas will inherit an estate if no surviving family members can be located.

With good estate planning, there is no reason for the courts to be involved in distributing an estate after death. Speak to an estate planning lawyer about how you can avoid the need to rely on the state’s succession laws.

What is the Kansas “survivorship period”?

The Kansas “survivorship period” refers to the 120 hours (five days) by which an heir must survive the will-maker to legally inherit the property left to them in the will.

Furthermore, posthumous relatives, i.e., children of the deceased born after the death of the individual are eligible to receive an inheritance if it is due.

It’s also worth noting that immigration status is not a factor when considering eligibility for inheritance in Kansas, U.S. Citizenship is not required.

If you have any questions about Kansas’ inheritance laws, speak to a wills and estates lawyer at ITR Law in Topeka during a free case evaluation. We can advise you of your legal options.