Estate planning is one of the best ways to ensure your assets are protected after you’ve died. You’ll have a range of options for legally distributing your assets following death or incapacitation, but one of the ways to do so is by opening a living trust. This article will explore the process of forming a living trust in Kansas, with a closer look at why you may or may not want to use one. If you’re new to estate planning and would like expert advice, a financial advisor could greatly simplify the process. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool pairs you with up to three local advisors within five minutes.
How to Create a Living Trust in Kansas
This is how you’ll form a living trust in the Sunflower State:
- Select the type of trust that best suits your current situation. There are generally two types of living trusts from which you can choose: individual trusts and joint trusts. The former will be better if you’re single, but the latter may be the best option if you’re married. With joint trusts you can store both individually and jointly owned property between you and your partner.
- Take inventory on your property. You can store things like cash, stocks and bonds, physical property and documents of ownership in your living trust.
- Select your trust’s trustee. This can either be you or someone you’ve chosen. If you decide to act as the trustee before death, you’ll need to select a successor trustee who will manage your assets after you die.
- Create a trust document. You can either use a lawyer or a computer program for this.
- Sign the trust document in front of a notary public.
- Fund the trust by transferring property and assets into it. You can do this yourself, or you can consult a lawyer for legal guidance.
What Is a Living Trust?
A living trust is a legal arrangement that lets you dictate how your assets and property are managed following your incapacitation or death. It allows you to transfer management of your assets to a trustee, and this trustee can be you or someone you’ve appointed. The trustee will oversee the trust for you and your beneficiaries before and after you’ve died. The assets you can transfer may include bank accounts, property, jewelry, family heirlooms, stocks and bonds, automobiles and other assets you have a title to.
There are two primary types of living trusts: irrevocable living trusts and revocable living trusts. Irrevocable trusts are permanent, and any property or assets within the trust cannot be modified without approval from everyone in the trust. A revocable trust offers trust creators more control over their assets while they’re still alive. There aren’t many restrictions, and the trust allows you to choose when and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
How Much Does It Cost to Create a Living Trust in Kansas?
The amount of money you spend depends on how you choose to create a trust. You can create a living trust through two different ways: you can hire an attorney or you can use an online program. Hiring an attorney will cost you more than $1,000. If you choose to use the DIY approach, you’ll spend a few hundred dollars. Both methods have pros and cons, of course.
DIY estate planning, though less expensive, requires more detail and planning. It can present some risks if you aren’t precise in your research. If you’d rather seek the guidance of a professional, you should probably use a lawyer. It’s also important to choose a lawyer who specializes in trusts.
Why Get a Living Trust in Kansas?
In estate planning, many people create living trusts to avoid something called the probate process. This is a judicial process where the last will and testament of a deceased person has to be proven in court. The value of the decedent’s assets is determined and the court decides how to distribute them among any beneficiaries. The process can take many months. Many states use a Uniform Probate Code which greatly simplifies the probate process. Kansas hasn’t enacted a Uniform Probate Code, so creating a living trust could save you much time and money.
Another perk of getting a living trust is that you get to decide when beneficiaries retain control of assets or property. For instance, you can have your trustee supervise any property until your child, or beneficiary, reaches a certain age. Living trusts also help you avoid conservatorship since you’ll have already appointed someone to oversee your assets when you become incapacitated.
Who Should Get a Living Trust in Kansas?
Living trusts aren’t just for residents with large estate. Kansas hasn’t enacted a Uniform Probate Code, but you could still benefit from a court proceeding if you have a smaller estate plan. Kansas offers a simplified estate proceeding for estates less than $20,000.
If you’re also considering a will, it’s important to note that living trusts can cost more money to set up. Living trusts can also take more time to form. You’ll want to consider these factors before forming this particular estate plan.
Living Trusts vs. Wills
Even if you create a living trust, you may still benefit from using a will. With a will you can do certain things that you can’t with a trust. A trust lets you determine how certain assets are distributed after your death. A will allows you to account for property not included in your trust. A will can also do the following:
- Name an executor
- Offer instructions for taxes and debt
- Establish guardianship for minors
- Select managers for children’s property
This chart outlines and compares living trusts and wills and the capabilities of both estate planning documents:
Living Trusts vs. Wills
|Names a property beneficiary||Yes||Yes|
|Allows revisions to be made||Depends on type||Yes|
|Avoids probate court||Yes||No|
|Requires a notary||Yes||No|
|Names guardians for children||No||Yes|
|Names an executor||No||Yes|
Living Trusts and Taxes in Kansas
Living trusts likely won’t impact your taxes, but it’s still useful to know whether your state has estate or inheritance taxes.
There isn’t an estate tax in Kansas, but a federal estate tax still applies to estates of more than $11.4 million for individuals and $22.8 million for married couples filing jointly. Residents in the Sunflower State won’t have to pay an inheritance tax either. You may have to pay an inheritance tax if you’re inheriting assets from someone who lived in a state that has one.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to estate planning, Kansas could be ideal for forming a living trust. Since the state doesn’t have a Uniform Probate Code, living trusts can be a great alternative to enduring the probate process. You can add a living trust to your estate plan by either hiring a lawyer, or through a DIY approach. If you don’t mind a less expensive, research-oriented approach, the DIY approach could be right for you. If you prefer professional assistance, you should consider hiring a lawyer.
Estate Planning Tips
- Expert advice can be beneficial in any area of financial planning. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Before you choose an advisor or attorney for your estate plan, it’s wise to ask them about things like their certifications and fees. Consider our list of questions to ask a financial advisor.
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