Guardianships and Conservatorships
If a person becomes disabled with no advance planning to provide for health care or asset management, state law provides a procedure known as a Guardianship and Conservatorship. The Probate Court appoints a person or persons to handle these matters for the disabled person. The person appointed by the Court to be the Guardian would authorize and approve all health care decisions for the disabled person, and the person appointed as Conservator would handle all the financial matters for the disabled person.
The Guardianship and Conservatorship laws are designed to protect the interests of a disabled person. Our firm has represented and will continue to represent clients in Guardianship and Conservatorship procedures, but we recommend these only as a last resort -- if there is no other way to deal with the problem. We strongly encourage our clients to do advance disability planning to avoid the necessity of this procedure.
Estates of Decedents:
If a person dies without a Will, the laws of the state of residence determine how the decedent's estate will be distributed, and a probate procedure will be necessary for the distribution of any assets owned by that person individually. Even if the person has a Will, it must be filed with the probate court in order to carry out the decedent's instructions.
However, probating a decedent's estate does not always have to be a costly and time-consuming process. We use our experience and familiarity with the probate procedures to help our clients perform their duties as Executors and complete the probate estates they are responsible for administering as quickly as the statutory time limits will allow. In addition, we charge our fees on an hourly basis for the work we perform, not a percentage of the value of the entire estate. We are also familiar with and will recommend "small estate" procedures and methods when there are relatively few assets of the decedent which are subject to probate.
Our firm has represented clients in Will determinations and Will contests, and has represented Executors and Administrators in probate estates where there is disagreement among the beneficiaries. We have also represented beneficiaries of probate estates to make sure their specific interest in the decedent's estate is protected.
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If you are named as a Trustee...
When someone names you to take over as Trustee of their trust, there are many responsibilities you must assume. Whether the original Trustee is incapacitated or deceased, there are a number of steps under Kansas law that you must follow, beginning no later than 60 days after you take over as Trustee. Our firm is familiar with this process and can assist you with the notification of beneficiaries, re-titling of assets, division of the trust into subtrusts when required by the terms of the trust instrument, the income tax and, where applicable, the federal estate tax requirements of administering the trust, and the procedures for making annual and final accountings and distributions to the beneficiaries of the trust.