Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Kansas:
A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:
In Kansas, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Kansas's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, up to the sixth degree of relation. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
No. You can make your own will in Kansas, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or you have especially complicated goals, you should talk with an attorney. See Do I Need an Attorney to Make My Estate Plan?
To make a will in Kansas, you must be:
In Kansas, your will affects the property you own at the time of your death, as well as any property your estate receives after your death. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-613.
You must make your will on hard copy. That is, it must be on actual paper. It cannot be on an audio, video, or any other digital file. (Although, see "Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?," below.) Kansas does not permit holographic (handwritten) wills. However, it does permit nuncupative (oral) wills if you make it during a time of your last sickness, someone witnessed this, and your statements were reduced to writing and witnessed by two people. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-608.
To finalize your will in Kansas:
You must sign at the end of the will. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-606. Your witnesses must see you sign or acknowledge your will. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-606. It is best to have only "disinterested" witnesses sign your will - these are people who don't stand to inherit anything from you. If an "interested" witness signs your will, he or she can lose the gift you left in the will for that person. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-604.
No, in Kansas, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.
However, Kansas allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.
To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.
Yes. In Kansas, you can use your will to name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust produces a letter to your executor that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name an executor, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.
In Kansas, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by:
If you make a will and then marry and have (or adopt) a child, your will is automatically revoked. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-610. If you and your spouse divorce (or if a court determines that your marriage is not legal), Kansas law revokes any language in your will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse to be your executor. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 59-610. If you have any concerns about the effects of divorce on your will, see an estate planning attorney for help.
If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).
In a handful of states, you can make a legal will digitally—that is, you can make the will, sign it, and have it witnessed without ever printing it out. Although such electronic wills are currently available in only a minority of states, many other states are considering making electronic wills legal. Kansas currently doesn't allow e-wills, but that may change in the future.
You can find Kansas's laws about making wills here: Kansas Statutes Chapter 59 Probate Code Article 6 - Wills.