The most direct way to ensure the transfer of property and the fulfillment of one’s wishes after death is to create a will. A will is a testamentary document that instructs a party—known as an executor—on how to divide a deceased person’s assets and property. A will also overrides the state’s laws concerning intestacy. An effective estate plan often includes a will, and a comprehensive will can be all the estate planning that a person needs to ensure their wishes are met.
A Pottawatomie County wills lawyer could assist individuals in crafting documents that provide instructions for after their death. An experienced estate planning attorney could explain the laws that govern proper will creation and assist with drafting documents that meet every legal requirement.
As a general concept, any adult can create a will. In fact, Kansas Statute § 59-601 states that the only requirements for a person to be able to make a will are that a person must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind.
In addition to the eligibility requirements concerning who can legally construct a will, the law also specifies the requirements that a written will must fulfill. According to KS Statute § 59-606, a legally binding will must contain the testator’s signature. The testators themselves must sign the will or instruct another person to do so on their behalf. This execution must occur in the presence of two or more witnesses who must also affix their signatures to the will. Finally, the signing must take place in the presence of a notary public or other official with the power to acknowledge a signing.
Once this process is complete, a will has legal power. It remains in effect until either the testator destroys the document or signs a new will. Once a testator dies, any party may submit the will to the court, initiating the probate process. A knowledgeable Pottawatomie County wills attorney could help parties understand and meet the legal requirements for creating a valid will.
While there are strict rules concerning the creation of a will, the contents of a will are largely up to the discretion of the testator. The most common role of a will is to determine what will happen to a person’s property. This may include, but is not limited to:
Wills usually name a person who takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the terms of the document come to fruition. This person is called the executor. Any party who is at least 18 years old is eligible to serve in this role. Choosing a qualified and willing executor is vital to ensuring that one’s wishes become a reality during the probate process.
Many people use wills to disinherit individuals who might stand to be an heir under the state of Kansas’ intestacy laws. According to these laws, there is a presumption that a person’s surviving spouse and children are the heirs to an estate. However, language in a will that specifically disinherits these people and gives their share of an estate to another party takes precedence. A seasoned lawyer in Pottawatomie County could help parties identify their goals when crafting a will.
Creating a will remains the most common way that people transfer property to others after death. These documents carry absolute legal authority, and the executors of wills have a duty under state law to ensure that its terms are followed during probate. Even so, the laws in Pottawatomie County require written wills to contain the testator’s signature as well as the signatures of two competent witnesses. A failure to follow the will creation guidelines could result in challengers questioning the validity of a document in probate court.
A Pottawatomie County wills lawyer could help you create testamentary documents that both satisfy the legal requirements and specify your wishes for after your death. Reach out to one of the qualified attorneys at our firm today to schedule an appointment.