An estate plan has many benefits for those who create them and their family members. However, for these benefits to exist, the estate plan must be enforceable and address the appropriate aspects of your estate. There are many mistakes that people make during the process of estate planning. It’s helpful to work with a Kansas City, KS, estate planning attorney to avoid these mistakes and get the greatest advantages from an estate plan. Common errors include:

Not Having Any Estate Plan

One of the biggest mistakes in estate planning is not planning your estate. Even by creating a simple estate plan, such as only having a last will, you are still providing benefits for your loved ones. You can name guardians for minor children, set an executor to distribute assets, and name heirs to portions of your estate. This can help the distribution go more quickly, rather than allowing the estate to be distributed by inheritance laws.

A more complex estate plan can save your family even more time and also money by avoiding the probate process altogether.

Procrastinating an Estate Plan

If you do not create an estate plan until much later in your life, the plan is much more vulnerable to certain will or trust contests, including lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence claims. It’s important to begin your estate plan earlier in life, allowing time for you to review the plan and making contests unlikely to succeed.

Improperly Using Joint Ownership of Assets

Listing an individual as a joint owner in an asset title or deed seems to many to be an easy option to transfer an asset outside of probate after death. This may be done with vehicles, real estate, and other costly property.

This process, though it may seem straightforward, can have significant tax consequences. This tax does not apply to spouses, but transferring large assets to other individuals can result in a federal gift tax that significantly affects the benefits they receive from the asset. Instead, you can find other ways to transfer an asset that does not trigger this tax.

Executor Errors

Sometimes, individuals create a will and then fail to name an executor. It is crucial to list who you wish to handle the inventorying, safekeeping, and distribution of your estate. Without an executor, the court will place someone in charge of these duties. This may be someone you did not wish to handle your estate. If you create a trust, it is also important to name the trustee and a successor trustee if they pass.

You also don’t want to pick the wrong person to be in charge of your estate. The role of a trustee or executor is not ornamental, and these individuals must understand and be able to handle the significant legal requirements and responsibilities of the role.

Only Having One Beneficiary per Asset

If you list only one beneficiary on an asset or in a trust, this can complicate things. If the individual dies before you do, but you are unable or fail to change the estate plan, that asset has no beneficiary. Instead, it passes to probate court. When creating your estate plan, list contingent beneficiaries for each part of your estate. This limits the chance of the asset going to state jurisdiction and ensures that someone else you care about benefits from it.

Not Updating the Estate Plan

You should regularly update your estate plan once it’s created. If the estate plan is not updated, it may not reflect changes to your wishes and changes in your family and beneficiaries. It’s recommended that an estate plan be updated every two to five years and then after any significant life changes. These include marriage, deaths in the family, births, divorce, and new asset acquisitions.


Q: What Rights Do Beneficiaries Have in Kansas?

A: A beneficiary named in an estate plan in Kansas has several rights, including:

  1. The right to request and receive information about the administration of the trust
  2. The right to request and receive a copy of the parts of the trust that a beneficiary has an interest in
  3. The right to be notified when someone becomes the trustee, as well as the right to the trustee’s contact information
  4. The right to be notified within 60 days of the trustee learning of the death of the trustor
  5. The right to receive a trust report if the beneficiary received a distribution

Q: Who Is Liable When There Are Mistakes in an Estate Plan?

A: When there is a mistake in an estate plan, several parties may be liable, including an attorney, a trustee, an executor, an accountant, or other individuals. It depends on the type of mistake made and the level of responsibility the individual had for the estate plan. If the estate plan is unenforceable due to legal mistakes, such as being improperly signed or drafted, and the estate plan was created with the help of an estate planning attorney, the attorney can be liable.

Q: What Are the Inheritance Laws in Kansas?

A: When you die without a will in Kansas, your estate is distributed according to inheritance laws. The estate will be distributed in this order to your surviving relatives:

  1. Your spouse receives the entire estate if you have no children.
  2. Your spouse and children each receive half of the estate.
  3. Your children receive the entire estate if you have no surviving spouse.
  4. Your grandchildren receive equal shares of their parent’s inheritance if they survive their parents.
  5. Your parents would receive the estate if you were survived by none of the prior relatives.

Q: What Is the In Terrorem Clause in Kansas?

A: An in terrorem clause in Kansas is also called a no-contest clause. Although this clause does not prevent all contests to a will or trust, it can limit them. The no-contest clause states that any beneficiary who contests the document and does not succeed will lose a portion or all of their inheritance. This clause is most effective at limiting contests by beneficiaries if they are not sure that they will succeed. It is unlikely to prevent contests by those with interest in the estate but who are not listed as beneficiaries.

Contact Stange Law Firm in Kansas City, KS

It can be overwhelming to consider and create an estate plan that accounts for your end-of-life care and circumstances after your death. You may be unsure what you can even do with an estate plan. The attorneys at Stange Law Firm can help you determine your estate goals and how to meet those goals. Contact our team today.