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Kansas Inheritance Laws: What You Should Know


Kansas does not have an estate tax or inheritance tax, but there are other state inheritance laws of which you should be aware. In this detailed guide of the  inheritance laws in the Sunflower State, we break down intestate succession, probate, taxes, what makes a will valid and more. If you want professional guidance for your estate plan, SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool can pair you with advisors who serve your area.

Does Kansas Have an Inheritance Tax or an Estate Tax?

Kansas does not collect an estate tax or an inheritance tax. However, if you are inheriting property from another state, that state may have an estate tax that applies. You may also need to file some taxes on behalf of the deceased.

Estate taxes are taken out of the deceased’s estate immediately after their passing, leading some to refer to them as the “death tax.” Inheritance taxes are imposed upon the deceased’s heirs after they have received their inheritance.

Other Necessary Tax Filings

When you die, there are many federal and estate tax situations that need to become a priority for those who survive you. Besides the state estate tax, you need to look out for the following:

  • Final individual federal and state income tax returns: the federal and state tax returns are due by Tax Day of the year following the individual’s death.
  • Federal estate/trust income tax return: due by Tax Day of the year following the individual’s death
  • Federal estate tax return: due nine months after the individual’s death, though an automatic six-month extension is available if asked for prior to the conclusion of the nine-month period
    • This is required only of individual estates that exceed a gross asset and prior taxable gift value of $13.61 million in 2024.

To file any of these estate-based returns, you’ll need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS. You can do this online, by fax or via mail.

Dying With a Will in Kansas

In order for your will to be valid in Kansas, you must sign your will in front of two witnesses who see you sign or acknowledge your will. Those witnesses must also sign your will. Your witnesses should be disinterested witnesses, which means that they are not inheriting anything in the will. If an heir signs the will, they may lose their inheritance.

You should also keep in mind that if you make a will and then marry and have or adopt a child, your will is automatically revoked. In addition, if you are married and you get a divorce, or if a court determines that your marriage is not legal, the parts of your will that leave property to your spouse or name your spouse to be the executor of your will is then revoked.

You do not have to notarize your will in order to make it legal. However, you can make your will “self-proving,” which helps to speed up the probate process. In order to do that you will need to go to a notary. A self-proving will speeds up the probate process because the court can accept the will without contacting the signing witnesses. You can make your will self-proving if you and your witnesses go to a notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.

Once the will is determined to be valid, the next step is the probate process. Probate proceedings are usually only required if the deceased person owned any assets in their name only. Other assets, also known as non-probate property, can generally be transferred to the other owner without probate.

Kansas has not adopted the Uniform Probate Code. However, the state offers two procedures that allow heirs to skip or simplify the probate process. The first is an affidavit procedure that allows heirs to skip probate altogether. This process is available if the value of the estate subject to probate is $75,000 or less. All an heir needs to do is prepare a short affidavit, signed under oath, that states that they are entitled to inherit a certain asset. When the person or institution holding the asset in question receives the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, the property is then released to the inheritor.

Kansas also offers a simplified probate procedure. However, if the affidavit procedure has been used, there is no need to use this process. In order to use the simplified probate process, the executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court can then allow the executor to distribute the property without going through the usual probate process. The court decides whether to allow the simplified small estate procedure based off of the size of the estate, wishes of the heirs, and other factors.

If the simplified procedure is approved by the court, the executor must collect the decedent’s assets, file an inventory and valuation of the property, and pay final creditor claims and taxes. The executor must also file a closing statement that states who received the decedent’s property, the names and addresses of the inheritors, and whether any debts were paid. It must also include a statement that the decedent either did not receive Kansas state medical assistance, or that if they did, the state was notified of the filing of the request.

Handwritten wills are not valid in Kansas, but oral or “nuncupative” wills are acceptable, provided they are spoken during the testator’s final sickness. An oral will can only give away  personal property and only if it is put into writing and subscribed to by two competent, disinterested witnesses within 30 days after speaking the testamentary words.

Dying Without a Will in Kansas

Sedgwick County Courthouse in Kansas

Dying without a will isn’t the best situation if what happens to your assets after your death matters to you. Kansas laws label these types of estates “intestate,” which means there is no will, or no valid will. The court then has to follow intestate succession laws to determine who inherits your property, and how much of it.

If there isn’t a will, the court then appoints someone, usually an adult child or surviving spouse, to be the executor or personal representative. The executor or personal representative takes care of the decedent’s estate.

Although there are often extenuating factors when someone dies intestate, but it’s best not to die intestate and put your loved ones through that kind of stress. If you’re not sure what kind of estate plan you want to make, you can seek the help of a financial advisor specializing in legacy planning.

Spouses in Kansas Inheritance Law

If you are married and die intestate, your spouse’s inheritance depends on whether or not you have descendants. Descendants include your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If you have no living descendants, your surviving spouse will inherit everything.

Kansas recognizes common law marriage if the couple is legally eligible to marry, they consider themselves to be married and publicly holds themselves out to be married.

Children in Kansas Inheritance Law

If you have children and no spouse, your children will inherit everything. However, if you have both a spouse and children, your spouse will inherit half of your intestate property, and your children will inherit the other half.

Under Kansas law, adopted children have just as much right to their share of intestate inheritance as biological children do. In addition, if the decedent placed their child up for adoption and that child was adopted by another family, the adopted child is still entitled to an intestate share of the decedent’s estate. However, foster children and stepchildren who were never legally adopted by the decedent are not eligible to receive a share as the decedent’s child. Children born outside of marriage still receive their share if paternity has been established under Kansas law.

Intestate Succession: Spouses and Children

Inheritance SituationWho Inherits Your Property
Children but no spouseChildren inherit everything
Spouse but no descendantsSpouse inherits everything
Spouse and descendantsSpouse inherits half, descendants inherit other half

Children conceived by you but not born until after your death, also known as posthumous children, are also entitled to a share of the inheritance. Grandchildren will receive a share only if their parent is not alive to inherit.

Unmarried Individuals Without Children in Kansas Inheritance Law

In Kansas, if there is no surviving child or spouse, intestate succession is arranged as in the chart below:

Intestate Succession: Extended Family

Inheritance SituationWho Inherits Your Property
ParentsParents inherit everything
Siblings but no parentsSiblings inherit everything

There is an intestate process designed to make sure your family inherits. However, it is generally best to write your own will to ensure that all of your property ends up in the hands you want it in. If no eligible relatives can be found, your property will end up owned by the state of Kansas.

Non-Probate Kansas Inheritances

The probate process can be difficult and expensive, so you’ll want to know what your options are for avoiding probate in Kansas. Listed below are some of the assets that will not have to go through probate and instead go directly to the beneficiaries, whether there is a will or not.

Other Situations in Kansas Inheritance Law

Combine cutting Kansas wheat

Kansas has a survivorship period. In order to inherit under Kansas’s intestate succession statutes, the heir in question must survive you by at least 120 hours. In addition, relatives conceived before you die but born after you die, known as posthumous relatives, are eligible to inherit as if they had been born while you were alive.

Immigration status is irrelevant when it comes to inheritance. If a relative of yours is entitled to a share of your assets, they can inherit no matter what their citizenship status is. Half-relatives inherit as much as “whole” relatives. For example, your half-sibling would get the same share as any other sibling.

Kansas inheritance laws also have some built-in protections. First, if you leave property to a relative as an advancement of their inheritance, the value of the gift is subtracted from that relative’s share when they inherit after your death. In addition, someone who feloniously kills you or arranges for your death will not be eligible to inherit your assets.

Resources for Estate Planning

  • Managing your own estate can be a complex process. And if you’ve inherited money, you’ll have plenty of tax and investing considerations to keep in mind. In either case, you might want some professional help with the process. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three 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.
  • If you’re going to build your estate plan on your own make sure you avoid some common mistakes. After all, messing up your estate plan can cause many complications for your family after you’re gone.

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