Some Kansas residents, prior to their death, have taken the necessary steps to create a will, while some have neglected to do so. That being said, unless there is a trust in place the deceased’s property will go through probate, whether they have created a will or whether they have died intestate. However, there are some types of property that bypass the probate process, and are distributed directly to the beneficiaries.
First of all, many residents of Kansas have life insurance policies. In these policies they have named a beneficiary, and in some cases a secondary beneficiary, who is to receive the proceeds of the policy. After the creator of the life insurance policy dies, the proceeds will go directly to the individual named as the beneficiary rather than going through probate. The exception to this is if the beneficiary named in the policy is the executor of the insured’s estate.
In addition, sometimes individuals in Kansas share the title to property as joint tenants with right of survivorship. For example, a married couple may have their home titled as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Once one joint tenant passes away, the property automatically goes to the living joint tenant, without going through probate.
Some financial accounts, such as bank accounts, allow the account holder to include a “pay on death” provision in the account, naming an individual to receive the assets. If this is the case, the property in the account does not go through probate, and instead is passed right on to the designated individual. Similarly, if an individual owns securities, they can include a “transfer on death” provision, which will also allow the securities to pass on to the appropriate individual instead of going through probate.
The property that bypasses probate will do so even if an individual’s will says otherwise. It is important that individuals in Kansas understand how the probate process will affect them. Consulting with an elder law attorney familiar with these issues may be of help.