When we die, what happens to our property and possessions? If we do nothing, they will be given to our relatives according to our state’s intestate succession laws. However, we can better determine who gets what if we develop an estate plan. For many, that means creating a will. For others, that may also mean creating a trust. No matter what your circumstances are and how uncomfortable it can be to talk about our own death, it’s important to understand the wills laws and related estate planning laws in your state.
The following chart outlines the main laws related to creating and revoking wills in Kansas.
||Kansas Statutes Chapter 59: Probate Code, Article 6: Wills
|Who Can Create a Will?
||Anyone at least 18 years of age or emancipated by marriage, the court, or another manner and who is of sound mind can create a will. The person who creates a will is called the “testator.”
|Legal Requirements for a Valid Will
||A valid will in Kansas must be:
- In writing
- Signed at the end by the person making the will (testator) or by someone else in the presence of and at the express direction of the testator
- Signed by two or more competent witnesses who saw the testator sign the will or heard him or her acknowledge the will
To make the will “self-proved,” so the testimony of the witnesses at probate could be unnecessary as just the self-proving affidavits can be admitted as evidence, the testator and witnesses need to sign and notarize an additional statement.
||At least two witnesses to the will must be legally competent at the time of the signing of the will.
A gift or bequest made in a will to a signing witness is void, unless there are two other competent signing witnesses who aren’t also will beneficiaries. However, if a person would be an heir without a will (intestate succession), then the person can take no more than given in the will.
Also understand you can’t give a gift to the person drafting your will (the lawyer helping you), unless he or she is also a relative or you also have independent legal advice.
|Revocation of a Will
||A will can be revoked in the following ways:
- Drafting a new will or other writing explicitly revoking prior will
- Burning, tearing, canceling, or destroying the will with the intent to revoke it, either by the testator or another person at his or her direction while in his or her presence
- Marrying and having a child by birth or adoption after creating a will revokes the prior will
- Divorcing after creating a will revokes all provisions to the former spouse
|Oral or Nuncupative Wills
||An oral or nuncupative will is valid in Kansas if made during the testator’s last sickness. However, the oral will can only give away personal property and only if put into writing and subscribed two by two competent, disinterested witnesses within 30 days after speaking the testamentary words. A “disinterested” witness is someone who isn’t receiving something from the will.
|Handwritten or Holographic Wills
||Holographic wills, which are wholly handwritten by the testator, aren’t valid in Kansas. However, these wills are valid in some other states, like nearby Oklahoma and Nebraska.
|Validity of Out-of-State Wills
||Wills that were valid in the state the testator lived either at creation of the will or at his or her death are valid in Kansas, as long as the will is in writing and signed by the testator.
If now is the time to draft your will, you can create your own using numerous online will resources. You should also consider consulting with an experienced Kansas attorney who specializes in wills and estate planning, especially if you have a significant amount of assets. You may also want to create an advance health care directive to state your health care wishes and assign a health care representative should you become incapacitated.
Note: State laws are updated frequently, please talk to a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these estate planning laws.
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