The attorneys at Gaughan & Connealy are committed to educating their clients, as well as the residents of Overland Park in general. As such, we provide a comprehensive electronic library of special reports covering numerous estate planning and probate issues. We also update our legal blog regularly in order to provide updates on the ever-changing laws relating to estate planning, probate and other legal areas we handle. Finally, our workshops are always a valuable source of information. Ultimately, it is our desire that Kansas residents stay informed. Below, you will find several links to useful resources relating to probate.
Johnson County District Court Information
For Overland Park residents, the Johnson County District Court has jurisdiction over probate and administration of estates, guardianships, conservatorships, care of the mentally ill, and other matters. The probate division of the Court Clerk’s Office is located on the west side of the 2nd floor of the Johnson County Courthouse. The office is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The county’s Probate Claim Against Estate form can be found here. If you have questions about completing this form or any other probate issues, let our probate attorney know.
Consider Some of the Alternatives to the Probate Process
The probate process, the purpose of which is to accomplish the transfer of assets from the deceased to his or her beneficiaries when there is no other way to do so, is governed by Kansas state probate law. Typically, probate is considered the last resort when there are no estate planning instruments in place. If the only thing you have in your estate plan is a will, your estate will still need to go be probated in order to transfer your property to your named beneficiaries. But there are a few alternatives you can ask your probate attorney about.
Understanding Some Methods for Probate Avoidance
Although numerous clients want to create an estate plan in order to help them avoid the probate process, most of those clients do not actually understand what the probate process includes. One misconception is that avoiding probate means eliminating estate taxes. Another misconception is that your estate only goes through probate if you die without a will. If you really want to avoid probate, you need to understand how to accomplish avoidance while complying with Kansas probate law. Our probate attorney can help you accomplish this goal.
Four Ways to Avoid Probate Under Kansas Probate Law
There are four basic methods for transferring ownership of the assets in an estate, that do not require the use of the probate process. Under Kansas probate law, these methods include:
- operation of law
- summary probate
If any of these methods are used correctly, avoiding probate can be easily accomplished. Your probate attorney can help you with this task.
Transfer by designating a beneficiary
Another way to transfer certain types of property while avoiding probate is through a beneficiary designation. For example, life insurance policies and retirement accounts are simply transferred to the designated beneficiaries upon the primary policy or account holder’s death. Similarly, payable-on-death accounts operate the same way. Some bank accounts, for instance, can be converted to payable-on-death accounts by completing a form that lists beneficiaries of that particular account. Then, upon your death, the money in the account will automatically be transferred to your named beneficiary without going through probate.
Transfer by trust agreement
One of the greatest benefits of a trust is probate avoidance. With a trust, all of the property you transfer or fund to the trust can be transferred to your named trust beneficiary without the need for going through probate. The trustee who manages the property until your death will ensure the property distribution of your trust property when the time comes. Our probate attorney can help you draft the right trust agreement.
Claiming property with a simple affidavit
In Kansas, heirs are allowed to avoid probate altogether when the value of the estate is under $40,000. All that is required is a short affidavit stating that the heir is entitled to a particular asset. An affidavit must be signed under oath. The affidavit is then submitted to the person or institution holding said property, along with a copy of the death certificate. That third-party, a bank, for example, would then release the property to the heir. Some states may require that the affidavit is filed with the probate court.
If you have questions regarding probate or any other estate planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (913) 262-2000. We are here to help!