The probate process can be long and drawn-out, costing your survivors time as well as money. Fortunately, Kansas offers two probate shortcuts for "small estates." If the property you leave behind at your death is below a certain amount, Kansas allows the property to be transferred more quickly and with less hassle. In other words, if your estate qualifies as "small," your loved ones may be able to use simplified probate procedures, or even skip probate entirely.
Kansas offers a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether. To qualify, the estate (the property you own at death) must meet these requirements:
(Kan. Stat. § 59-1507b (2023).)
This procedure can't be used to transfer real estate, though—only personal property (all other types of property besides real estate).
If your estate meets the requirements listed above, all your inheritor has to do is sign a simple document under oath, called an affidavit. The Small Estates Affidavit must include certain information, such as:
After signing the document (and swearing to its truthfulness) and having it notarized, the inheritor simply presents the affidavit to the person or institution holding the property—for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account. The inheritor will also need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate. After that, the person or institution releases the asset. This process skips probate court entirely.
Even if they don't qualify for one of the probate-skipping procedures discussed above, small estates in Kansas might still be able to use a probate shortcut called "simplified administration" or "simplified probate." With this procedure, you'll still have to go through the probate process, but you will be able to take more steps without court supervision. In other words, probate will be faster, and the costs of probate will be lower.
The probate court has discretion to decide whether to grant simplified administration in any given case. When making the decision, the court will consider factors such as:
(Kan. Stat. § 59-3202 (2023).)
For more information on probate in Kansas, also see the following Nolo article:
Nolo also offers several resources and tools to help with Kansas probate. If you're an executor or personal representative of an estate and tasked with wrapping up a loved one's property, you can consult a probate attorney or the comprehensive book The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), for further help.
On the other hand, if you're interested in actively planning now to minimize probate costs for your loved ones after your death, consider these next steps: