2 issues surviving spouses should know about Kansas estate laws

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2023 | Estate Planning

Losing a spouse is undoubtedly one of the most difficult experiences of a lifetime. Especially if a surviving spouse has minor children to care for, the whole family will navigate an intense grieving process, each family member processing his or her emotions in a unique way, while, hopefully, all members provide support and encouragement to one another. The widowed spouse must resolve certain estate issues, whether the decedent signed a will. These Kansas estate law terms — homestead allowance and elective share — are important to understand. 

If your spouse has passed away without having executed a last will and testament, his or her estate becomes intestate. This means that a Kansas probate judge determines how to distribute the decedent’s assets. A surviving spouse typically inherits a portion or all of a deceased spouse’s property. The homestead allowance and elective share laws come into play regarding the marital home and a disinherited spouse, meaning that the decedent left him or her out of the will. 

Homestead allowance enables a surviving spouse to remain in the marital home 

In Kansas, you have a right to keep living in the house you shared with your spouse after he or she dies, although, perhaps, not permanently. If you remarry or have minor kids who turn 18, ownership of the house transfers to the one listed as the beneficiary in your deceased spouse’s will. If the estate is intestate, the house passes to whomever the state determines should inherit it once the homestead allowance has expired.  

What is an elective share? 

Kansas estate laws entitle you to inherit a portion of your deceased spouse’s estate, even if he or she left you out of a will. The minimum share you can receive in this state is $50,000. Beyond that, the court will calculate 3% of the estate times the number of years you were married. For example, if your home value is at $250,000, then 3% of that is $7,500. This would be your elective share for every year of marriage up to 10 years. 

For 11 years and beyond, the percentage increases 4%. That means if you were married 15 years, your elective share would be 50% of $250,000, which is $125,000. An elective share is capped at 50%.  

Support is available for surviving spouses facing estate law issues 

Kansas estate laws are complex. It’s difficult enough to function after a spouse’s death, much less to function amid legal problems regarding your loved one’s estate. Various people, such as financial advisers and estate planning and administration attorneys, can provide strong support and guidance throughout the probate process.