As an Indiana estate planning lawyer, I serve clients in Danville, Plainfield, Avon, Brownsburg, and the surrounding areas in helping them document their wishes for the distribution of their estate by will or through a will and trust.
What Is A Will?
When a person dies in Indiana, all property owned by such person (called the “decedent”) is distributed in accordance with the decedent’s will. If the decedent dies without a will, the person is said to have died “intestate,” and property must be distributed in accordance with Indiana’s intestate distribution laws.
What You Need to Know About Indiana Intestate Distribution Laws
Indiana’s intestate distribution laws do not take into account any wishes expressed by the decedent. The decedent may have expressed a clear desire to disinherit a family member or to give a specific piece of piece of jewelry to a loved one. Unfortunately, without a will, the decedent’s wishes usually will not be honored.
A Will Is Especially Critical When a Couple is Not Legally Married
If a couple is not legally married and one partner dies, assets of the deceased partner (other than assets that are held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship) will pass to the decedent’s relatives unless there is a will or other legal documentation in place. As a result, the surviving partner may inherit nothing, and in fact, may find that assets that were shared are now owned in part by the decedent’s family members.
What Is A Trust?
Trusts are sometimes helpful in the estate planning process, as in some cases trusts can be used to minimize taxes. In other cases, a trust may be helpful to restrict minor children from potentially inheriting a large sum of money prior to an age specified by a parent or other trust creator (possibly a grandparent). When I learn about your particular circumstances, I can advise as to whether a trust might be beneficial for you.
Wills and trusts not only provide for peace of mind, but also for a smooth transfer of assets. Without a will or trust, not only is it possible that assets will not be transferred as desired, but also family infighting and resentment can result.
If You Have Not Already Planned for the Distribution of Your Assets After Death, Please Contact Me
The cost for preparing a will (and a trust, if desired) is usually fairly nominal compared to the significant costs and adverse consequences that sometimes results when a person dies intestate. I will document your asset distribution wishes so that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes, not according to intestate distribution laws.