Wise & Reber, L.C., guides individuals, families and business owners through the process of estate planning and administration.
Our estate planning services can take several paths, depending on the needs of each client:
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.” Avoiding probate is one of the reasons that so many people choose trusts.
At Wise & Reber, we can help you set up an estate plan that is right for your family and circumstances. We are also experienced in business succession planning to complement the estate plans of our business owner clients.
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 while still owning property in his or her 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 at the federal level. Although the rules are extremely complex, in general, your estate is subject to federal tax if your individual gross estate exceeds $11.2 million for individuals and $22.4 million for married couples (2018). Kansas imposes no estate tax. However, depending on the type of assets, your estate plan can also affect how much income tax will be due.
A durable power of attorney for financial decisions allows the holder to conduct business for the named party. This document can be effective immediately or upon the happening of some future event. The holder of a durable power of attorney can 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 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 pre-sign a DNR Order, as it is issued only by a physician, but you can communicate your desire to your physician. A Do Not Resuscitate Directive is a type of advance directive that you complete in advance of a medical emergency. Typically, only terminally ill patients have a DNR Directive. If a healthy person has a DNR Directive, it may prevent him from receiving medical care needed to save his life.
Contact our offices for help understanding estate planning and probate law in Kansas or to begin planning your estate.