Estate Planning and Administration
Wills, trusts, probate, and estate administration in McPherson, Kansas
Wise & Reber, L.C., guides individuals, families, and business owners through the process of estate planning and administration in McPherson, Kansas, and throughout the rest of the state.
Having served McPherson for 130 years, we are in a unique position to consider how the efforts of the past influence the future and how the law intersects with the wishes or intentions of individuals over the course of several years. Our estate planning services can take several paths, depending on what’s right for each individual client:
Kansas wills, trusts, and will alternatives
A will is simply a document, executed according to state law, which provides for the disposition of your property at death. It allows you to control who gets your property. Without a will, a Kansas statute will control where your assets go. Until your death, a will is not enforceable and can be revoked or altered.
A trust is a document, effective immediately, which creates a separate entity to hold title to your assets. Trust assets do not require probate because the trust never dies. That is the reason that so many people choose trusts in order to avoid a probate proceeding.
At Wise & Reber, we can help you set up estate plans that avoid probate with will alternatives, too—for instance, we can set up bank accounts that are payable on death to a particular person or assign insurance policies to beneficiaries. We are also experienced in business succession planning as part of an overlap with our business law practice.
What to expect from Kansas probate
Probate, or estate administration, is the court proceeding that allows all of your debts to be settled and the remaining property to be distributed to your heirs.
Probate is necessary if a person dies without a will or with a will and owns property in his individual name. A will always requires probate to be effective; however, probate is only effective to transfer property titled in a person's name at his or her date of death.
Death taxes can be assessed both at the state and the federal level. Although the rules are extremely complex, in general, your estate is subject to federal tax if your gross estate exceeds $3,500,000.00 for deaths in 2009 at a tax rate is 45%. Kansas imposes a minimal estate tax on estates in excess of $1,000,000.00. Our law firm can advise on measures to reduce death taxes, too.
How to use powers of attorney, living wills, and medical directives
A durable power of attorney for financial decisions allows the holder to conduct business for the named party. This document can either be effective immediately or upon the happening of some event. The holder of a durable power of attorney could pay bills, sell property, and generally manage someone's financial affairs if granted the authority in the document. A power of attorney is "durable" if specific language is included that allows the power of attorney to remain effective upon incapacity. All powers of attorney, however, are terminated automatically at death.
A durable power of attorney for health care allows another individual to make medical decisions for you. It is only effective if you are legally incompetent.
A living will, known as a declaration in Kansas, provides that if you have an incurable and terminal injury, disease or illness certified by two physicians, you do not wish to be put on or remain on life support.
A Do Not Resuscitate Order ("DNR") is a physician's order usually executed in the terminal stages of the disease or injury. It is the physician's order to other medical care providers not to resuscitate the patient in the event of a cardiac arrest. You cannot prearrange a DNR, as it is issued only by a physician.
Contact our offices for help understanding estate planning and probate law in Kansas or to begin planning your estate or medical directives.