Estate planning allows an individual to plan how his or her property shall be handled in life and after.
The State of Kansas has default rules that establish how a person’s property passes upon his or her death. In some cases, an individual does not agree with the default rules and may want to specify his or her own rules. Kansas does allow an individual to specify how his or her property passes after his or her death and there are many tools available to estate planners to assist clients in accomplishing their wishes.
A properly planned estate can take advantage of trusts, wills and power of attorney documents to allow the individual’s estate to be handled privately and much more expediently than if the individual failed to plan his or her estate. In certain situations, the family of a decedent may need quick access to funds to pay funeral expenses or to continue paying a mortgage payment or some other similar situation. A properly drafted trust can allow the family access to those resources immediately upon death. This can save time and money but most importantly and in many circumstances it will make the transition of property from the deceased individual to their beneficiaries easier. It will also provide the individual making the trust (also known as a grantor or settlor) the ability to pass his or her property how he or she wants it to pass.
Some people may believe that estate planning is only something that needs done by the older population. We disagree. If the parents of a minor child were to die and leave the child as a survivor a properly planned estate will likely include the parent(s) designation of a guardian and/or conservator for the child. If the parent(s) do not make such a designation, it will be up to a Court to decide without the assistance of knowing the parents’ desires. It is probably a safe conclusion that you, as a parent, are going to know your family and friends better than a Court and you are going to know those individuals or couples that will best care for your child. The Courts are going to want to know your input and what your desires were prior to your passing. In the State of Kansas, one possible way to make it known is by including it in a will.
Lucas J. Nodine is a member of ElderCounsel. ElderCounsel provides its members with education, peer networks and tools to develop comprehensive plans to enable clients with planning options for their future.
Lucas J. Nodine is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. NAELA is a professional association of attorneys dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to people as they age and people with special needs.