Probate is the process overseen by the court in which an executor tallies a person’s assets after they die and distributes them to beneficiaries after finalizing other duties. When the person makes a will, the beneficiaries will be named in it, along with the executor.
If there is no will, probate occurs intestate, and the court names an executor and allocates assets according to state law. The law names who and by what percentage heirs of the decedent share bank accounts, separate property, cars, furniture, and jewelry. Serving as an executor is a big responsibility, but you do not have to do it alone. One of our knowledgeable attorneys could help you navigate the probate process in Junction City.
The Geary County District Court conducts probate matters. The executor petitions to open a probate matter and submits the will if there is one, which a judge will validate. A valid will must be signed and witnessed, and the court must agree that the decedent was of sound mind. Beneficiaries and the items the decedent wants them to have are listed in the will.
Executors then must:
- Pay creditors with valid claims and dispute those that are not
- Complete and pay the decedent’s federal and state income taxes
- Open an estate bank account at a financial institution or credit union
- Inventory and appraise the decedent’s assets, with help from an expert if necessary
- Confirm they will serve as executor, and if they cannot, the court will appoint one
- File an accounting to the federal government if estate or inheritance taxes are applicable
The executor’s final step is to distribute the gifts to beneficiaries and close the estate. Assets held in trust accounts, owned jointly, or with a named beneficiary such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts are not subject to probate. A Junction City probate attorney stands with executors every step during this process.
Probating Small Estates
You can circumvent the much slower probate process for small estates, according to Kansas Statute Annotated § 59-1507b. By filing a small estate affidavit, whether the decedent leaves a will or dies intestate, family members can ask that assets be distributed immediately if they total less than $75,000. This does not include property held in joint tenancy or assets such as life insurance policies that pass by designation in the policy.
Kansas does not subject Junction City residents to a state inheritance tax during the probate process, but if an heir inherits property located in one of the six states that do impose a tax, they could still have to pay it. An estate must be valued at $12.92 million and be inherited by one person or $25.84 million for a couple before federal inheritance taxes become an issue. In the top federal tax bracket, 40 percent of the estate will be due in inheritance taxes.
The Risk with Intestate Succession
State succession laws allocate assets by a formula to the family of someone who dies intestate. A valid spouse inherits the estate if there are no children and receives 50 percent of the estate with the other 50 percent split between the children of the deceased. A child’s share will be split between their children when the child does not survive the parent. The decedent’s parents and siblings are further in the line of beneficiaries. Talk to a Junction City probate attorney for more information about the process.
A Junction City Attorney Can Guide You Through the Probate Process
Although death is inevitable, it is always sad to wrap up a loved one’s life. If you are named executor, you are taking on categorizing assets, reporting to the court, paying creditors, and distributing the gifts the decedent wished loved ones to have in remembrance.
Our attorneys have a full understanding of the probate process with vast experience handling many situations that crop up, whether there is no will, a large and complicated estate, or assets in a state that levies inheritance taxes. We could help sort through the complex legalities. If you would like to discuss how the probate process in Junction City works in your situation, call today and schedule a consultation.