What Are the Probate Laws in Kansas When You Die Without a Will?

Kansas State Capitol in Topeka, Kansas

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The Kansas probate code decides who inherits from a deceased person's estate when a resident dies without a last will and testament, or if he lives elsewhere and owns property located within the state. This part of the probate code is known as intestacy succession laws.

Probate Law Scenarios When You Die With No Will

Intestacy succession laws cover various situations when you die with no will in place:

When the Decedent Is Survived by a Spouse and/or Descendants

If the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants—children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren—his estate is distributed to them in one of the following scenarios under the Kansas probate code: 

  • The decedent is survived by a spouse and descendants: The surviving spouse inherits one-half of the deceased spouse's probate estate, and his descendants inherit the other half per stirpes
  • The decedent is survived by a spouse and no descendants: The surviving spouse will inherit the deceased's entire probate estate. 
  • The decedent is survived by descendants and no spouse: The deceased person's descendants will inherit his entire probate estate per stirpes. 

"Per stirpes" means each heir takes by representation: his children represent the deceased parent for purposes of settling the estate. For example, if the decedent had a spouse, one child, and two grandchildren, but his child is no longer living and is the parent of his grandchildren, the grandchildren would each receive half of their deceased parent's one-half share or 25 percent of the estate each. 

When the Decedent Is Not Survived by a Spouse or Descendants

If the decedent is not survived by a spouse or any descendants, the intestacy laws in Kansas look for more distant relatives. 

  • The decedent is survived by a parent or parents but no spouse or descendants: The decedent's parents inherit the entire estate in equal shares if both are living. If only one is living, the entire estate goes to that parent. 
  • The decedent is survived by siblings or the descendants of siblings, but no spouse, descendants or parents: The deceased person's brothers and/or sisters, and the descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters, inherit the entire probate estate per stirpes. 
  • The decedent is not survived by any family members: In the unlikely event that the deceased person is not survived by any family members, the entire probate estate will escheat to Kansas -- the state will get everything. 

What Will You Inherit From a Kansas Intestate Estate?

Even if you determine that you are entitled to an intestate share of a relative's Kansas estate, you may not inherit anything. Your relative may have left only non-probate property that passes directly to named beneficiaries and is not subject to intestacy laws.

The debts he owed at the time of his death may exceed the value of the probate estate. This makes the estate insolvent. Heirs can only receive a share of what's left after all the decedent's debts and taxes have been paid, so they would receive nothing if the estate does not contain enough property and funds to go around. 

Consult with a Kansas probate attorney if you're not sure about your legal rights as an intestate heir.  

State laws change frequently, and this information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current legal advice, please consult with an attorney. The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice.