Overland Park Life & Estate Planning Attorney

Kansas And Missouri Life Stages Estate Planning Attorney in Overland Park and Kansas City

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What is Life and Estate Planning?

Estate planning encompasses various legal strategies such as wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, durable powers of attorney, and health care documents. Many new clients are unaware that they already have an estate plan in place. Without specific legal planning, Kansas’ intestacy laws dictate how their estate will be distributed after death. However, this may not align with their desired plan. To ensure your intentions are followed, it is crucial to establish a properly drafted estate plan tailored to your needs with the assistance of an estate planning lawyer.

Your Last Will and Testament

Your last will and testament is a vital component of a comprehensive estate plan. When a person passes away without a will, known as dying "intestate," state laws determine the distribution of their assets.

Here are some key points to understand about wills:

  • A will only holds legal authority after death, offering no assistance in managing a person's affairs during incapacitation caused by illness or injury.
  • A will does not help an estate avoid probate. Instead, it serves as the legal document presented to the probate court, essentially acting as an "admission ticket" to probate.
  • Nominating guardians (or backup parents) for minor children in your will is essential. All parents of minors should document their choice of guardians to prevent potential conflicts and ensure the well-being of their children.

Trusts: Revocable Living Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Testamentary Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, etc.

Trusts come in various forms, ranging from simple to complex, and serve different purposes in legal, personal, investment, or tax planning. At its core, a trust is a legal entity involving at least three parties: the trust-maker, the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary. Often, these three roles are fulfilled by a single person or a married couple. For instance, with a revocable living trust, an individual may establish the trust (the trust-maker) and appoint themselves as the current trustee (trust manager), managing the trust assets for their personal benefit (trust beneficiary).

Establishing a trust can yield several advantages, including the avoidance of probate court. In most cases, assets held in a revocable living trust can be immediately transferred to the trust beneficiaries or heirs upon the trust-maker(s)'s death, bypassing the need for probate. Certain trusts may also provide tax benefits for both the trust-maker and the beneficiary. They can safeguard assets from creditors or designate someone to manage and invest property on behalf of the trust-maker(s) and the named beneficiaries. Moreover, well-drafted trusts remain effective even if the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated. Contact our estate planning lawyer to explore the potential benefits of establishing a trust for you and your family.

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Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on your behalf for specific matters. The extent of these powers depends on the terms outlined in the document. Powers of attorney cease upon the maker's death and may also terminate if the maker (principal) becomes incapacitated. To designate a backup decision-maker in case of incapacity, it is advisable to use a durable power of attorney. It is crucial to update durable powers of attorney regularly, as financial institutions and banks may be hesitant to honor a power of attorney that is over a year old.

Request a consultation with your Olathe Estate Planning Attorney, Kyle Krull.

Life Stages Estate Planning in Kansas and Missouri

Planning For Singles

Whether you just turned 18 or are 118, one thing you share with your married counterparts is the need for essential estate planning.

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Planning For Married Couples

If you already have an estate plan created when you were Single, then you must bring your estate plan up-to-code to reflect your wedding vows.

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Planning For Minor Children

Are you the parent of minor children? If yes, then they are your most valuable treasure. So, what arrangements have you made for their care?

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Planning For Blended Families

Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to the critical estate planning challenges confronting blended families. A lot of those who have blended family house-holds don't even have their estate plans up-to-code.

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Planning During Peak Earning Years

Do you have children who are college-bound or already there? Do you have a wedding scheduled (or one or more down the road)? Perhaps you are beginning to help aging parents with personal, health care and financial responsibilities.

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Planning When Nearing Retirement

Retirement is often an exciting, yet bittersweet time of life. Chances are good that all of your children have left the nest with lives and growing families of their own.

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Planning for Retirement and Legacy

Estate planning for retirement ensures that you, your adult children, and parents have your legal ducks-in-a-row. After all, you likely have witnessed what can happen when families are not up-to-code with their estate planning.

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Planning When Single Again

Whether due to divorce or death, you are now Single again. You may have children and even grandchildren. In any event, you need to create (or revisit) your estate plan.

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Overland Park, KS Estate Planning

Serving Families and Individuals in Overland Park and the Surrounding Areas

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Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Overland Park, KS: Trusted Advocate For You & Your Family

Estate planning attorney in Overland Park

Quick. When you think of Overland Park estate planning, what comes to mind first? Is it wealthy folks living in mansions, traveling in private jets and riding in limousines? Actually, estate planning is for everyone. From the wealthy to the not so wealthy, beginning at age 18.

But what is meant by “Life & Estate Planning”? After all, isn’t estate planning just an after death plan for the distribution of your stuff? Oh, no. The focus is on planning to protect you, everyone you love, and everything you have whether you are healthy, incapacitated, or deceased.

As you can imagine, approached with this comprehensive mindset, this subject fills volumes of very dry, scholarly tomes. Unless your professional calling is to be an estate planning attorney, these scholarly tomes can (and will) cure anyone of insomnia. So, what do you really need to know to enjoy Life & Estate Planning Peace of Mind?

Let’s walk through a general overview of five (5) challenges that can only be overcome by proper Life & Estate Planning.

They are:


No Life & Estate Plan will be of value unless it begins with solid planning for your own potential incapacity. Here is why: The law requires each adult American to make his or her own personal, health care, and financial decisions. However, if you have not legally appointed the agent of your own selection in advance of your incapacity, then a probate judge, who may not know you or your wishes, will appoint one for you. This process may invade your privacy by making your personal and financial circumstances a matter of public record. In fact, since this legal process employs three lawyers (at a minimum), we call it The Lawyer Full-Employment Program.

Consequently, each adult American needs a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions and an Advance Health Care Directive (i.e., Health Care Treatment Directive/Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Matters and Anatomical Gift Declaration). Note: These legal instruments may be combined into one instrument or remain separate instruments. Why separate instruments? Which approach do I recommend?

You may want to appoint different agents to make your financial and health care decisions. For example, you might have the “numbers” person (a family member with a financial or business background) handle your financial decisions and the “medical” person (e.g., a family member or friend with a medical background) handle your health care decisions. Accordingly, my Overland Park estate planning practice is to prepare separate instruments.

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Death & Taxes

As Benjamin Franklin famously observed, there are but two (2) certainties in life: Death & Taxes. Unfortunately, proper planning can completely avoid only one of these certainties (taxes). We will address that certainty first.

Transferring your wealth to anyone but a bona fide charity is subject to taxation upon your death. However, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), each taxpayer may exempt $13.61 million* (as indexed annually for inflation) from this death tax. Yet, a double exemption is not automatic for married couples.

Although a married couple may protect up to $27.22 million* of their assets from federal estate taxes through proper estate planning, close coordination between your Overland Park estate planning attorney and your other professionals is required. Otherwise, you might be shortchanging your loved ones and unnecessarily enriching the IRS.

Since death is a 100% certainty on the actuarial tables of every life insurance company I have consulted (with a long history of anecdotal evidence in support), it seems only logical to make proper legal plans to protect your loved ones and your things when it is your turn. And planning is essential, whether you have a little or a lot. For instance, silver and gold aside, most parents consider their children their most valuable assets.

Parents often devote considerable time and treasure to providing their children with education, social/athletic activities, and religious training. Incredibly, however, these same parents may fail to legally appoint guardians (i.e., backup parents) for their minor children in the event both parents die. Who would you nominate as guardians to take your place and rear your minor children to adulthood? What special instructions would you give the guardians regarding their upbringing? By the way, listing the guardians on a cocktail napkin in the airport lounge will not work. Before tragedy strikes, you must legally appoint the guardians in your Last Will and Testament and/or your Revocable Living Trust.

Overland Park Probate is the court process for transferring assets owned by decedents who did not make legal arrangements to avoid probate while alive. The only time and place a Last Will and Testament has any purpose is in probate. Over the years, much has been said and written about whether probate should be avoided. Bottom line: Probate is more burdensome in some states than others, and you should evaluate the cost-benefit of probate/probate avoidance for your unique circumstances. When all is said and done, the ultimate key to whether an estate plan is successful hinges on the proper creation, implementation, and maintenance of your plan over time.

Question: Would your loved ones, fiduciaries, and professional advisors know where you keep your legal, financial, real estate, tax, and personal records? We have a system to help you get and stay organized, so you do not send them on a very unpleasant “paper chase” or “treasure hunt” after you are incapacitated or gone.

[* Note: This estate tax exemption is indexed yearly for inflation. Nothing in the political arena of tax law is truly “permanent” in my experience. Depending on your legal residence, be forewarned that many states impose their own estate or inheritance taxes, independent of any federal estate taxes. Kansas and Missouri do not have their own estate or inheritance taxes. Accordingly, careful monitoring of the economic, political, and legal climate is required.]

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Inheritance Protection

Have you ever noticed that no one values a dollar like the person who earned it? Appropriately, then, the third challenge is Inheritance Protection. Indeed, an inheritance representing an entire life of work and thrift could be lost or taken if this challenge is ignored. How?

If you do not incorporate Inheritance Protection into your estate distribution planning to protect any inheritance for (and maybe from) your heirs, then your hard-earned assets could be squandered by your surviving spouse’s new spouse, your children/grandchildren, or lost to their divorces, lawsuits, or bankruptcies. Alternatively, instead of outright or staggered distributions of your estate, consider establishing Long-Term Discretionary Trusts with Spendthrift Provisions for your heirs. Such arrangements may even include incentives to encourage positive behavior and discourage negative behavior. Our Overland Park estate planning can help with inheritance protection.


Believe it or not, there may not be an “estate” to plan (regarding assets) unless you play a little legal and financial defense. For example, the type of assets you have and how the title is held to them can protect them from potential creditors. Some of this protection is afforded by state law (Kansas and Missouri have some crucial differences here). Other less obvious protections are created by strategically analyzing your assets and tactically repositioning and retitling as needed. Sometimes, specific legal entities need to be considered, too.

Do you have proper insurance protection? I assume you have insured your things through auto, home, and umbrella policies. But have you insured yourself?

For example, disability income insurance is needed to continue your income should you become incapacitated during your earning years, life insurance is required to protect your family upon your death (and perhaps to provide estate liquidity for post-mortem expenses, debts, and taxes), and long-term care insurance is needed to avoid depleting your estate due to nursing home costs. After all, you do not want the only thing your children to inherit to be an elderly you?

Many otherwise proper Life & Estate Plans unnecessarily risk failure due to inadequate risk management. Drawing on my education, training, and experience as a Certified Financial Planner® certificant since 1991, I can work with your financial professionals and accounts to help ensure these crucial financial risks are covered.

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The Second Law of Thermodynamics is called Entropy. Basically, this means everything is in a constant state of breaking down and needing repair. Everything needs ongoing maintenance, whether it is your home, automobile, or even your body. So it is with your Life & Estate Plan.

In light of Entropy, you should regard your Life & Estate Plan as a Lifetime Process, not as a one-and-done event. To make sure your Life & Estate Plan performs as intended when needed, it only makes sense to review your Life & Estate Plan periodically, yes?

Here are a few common life changes or activities that could alter your Life & Estate Planning needs.

  • Marriage, remarriage, or divorce
  • Death of a spouse
  • A substantial change in estate size
  • Death or incapacity of an executor, trustee, or guardian
  • Move to another state
  • Acquisition of property in another state
  • Birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
  • Serious illness of a family member
  • Change in business interest or retirement
  • Change in insurability for life insurance
  • Marriage or divorce of a beneficiary
  • Change in beneficiary attitudes
  • Financial irresponsibility of a child
  • Change in tax law
  • More than two years since you reviewed your plan with an estate planning attorney

As a rule of thumb, we recommend that all clients review their plans (at least on their own) every two years or when major life events occur. Unlike some estate planning law firms, we do not have a required "maintenance program" to keep plans current. We believe clients are grownups and will let us know when a review is needed. That noted, we have a "system" to stay in touch. Our "opt-in" system has served our clients well over the years.

First, I publish blog posts each week on a variety of topics relevant to my clients and their loved ones. Subscribe to our weekly blog digest today!

Second, I have published a monthly estate planning newsletter since 1995. This newsletter helps us stay in touch with clients and their professional advisors. It is a subtle, friendly reminder to our clients every month that they have an estate plan. If they experience a major life event (e.g., winning the lottery), our clients are more likely to contact us and adjust their plans appropriately. Click here to subscribe.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, Life & Estate Planning is about much more than an after-death plan for distributing your earthly things. Our focus is on planning to protect you, everyone you love, and everything you have, whether you are healthy, incapacitated, or deceased.

When you are ready to experience true Life & Estate Planning Peace of Mind, we can help you create, implement, and maintain your Life & Estate Plan. We would enjoy welcoming you into our "client" family.

There are three ways to schedule your consultation: first, give us a call; second, email us; or third, click on the Request Initial Consultation/Review link. It is that easy. Really. Still not sure? Read what members of our "client" family say about their estate planning experience with us in 350+ reviews on avvo.com.

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Overland Park, KS 66085

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