As a local attorney serving Fishers and the rest of Hamilton County for their estate planning needs, I cannot stress enough how important an estate plan is. Everyone over the age of 18 should have a simple estate plan at a minimum. An estate plan makes sure that your wishes will be carried out after you pass, can expedite the process of getting your property to your beneficiaries, and provides your loved ones peace of mind that they won’t have to stress over guessing what your wishes were. If you do not have a will, trust, or other estate distribution plan in place, Indiana law will decide for you on how your property is distributed. In addition to a will or trust, an estate plan should also include a durable power of attorney and a set of advance directives. Below you can find a brief description of some of the tools we utilize to customize a thorough estate plan for our clients. Please contact us for more information.
We recommend anyone over the age of 18 should at least have a simple will. A will provides for the distribution of all property you own other than property that is distributed contractually such as retirement accounts that name a beneficiary. A will allows you to dictate how your remaining property is distributed to family, friends, an organization, or even to take care of your pet.
In addition to dictating how your property is distributed, wills can help keep costs down for your family and minimize the risk of loved ones fighting over your assets. Wills are even more critical for unmarried partners. Under Indiana intestate law, unmarried partners inherit nothing. So, even if a couple has been together for many years, without a will, a surviving partner may not inherit a dime under Indiana law. Additionally, a properly drafted will name guardians for your minor children and the property they inherit.
As your assets grow and your life evolves, other options like a trust may better suit your needs. A trust is where you name a third party, (the “trustee”), to hold your property for the named beneficiaries. Trusts can be created either while still living or through a will. Trusts have many benefits over a will. For example, a trust usually avoids probate and can protect the assets from beneficiaries’ creditors. The downside of a trust is they are more expensive to set up and there are ongoing costs and time required to maintain the trust as your assets change.
Estate planning can seem very complex and confusing because of the breadth of areas it touches on and the numerous choices available. This is why it is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney and not simply rely on pre-printed forms or self-service websites.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is a document signed by you which gives another person the authority to handle your affairs. A properly drafted durable power of attorney makes certain your financial responsibilities, business matters, and other concerns can still be carried out by your appointed representative if you become incapacitated. This can ensure that your affairs will stay in order until you are able to regain the ability to act on your own behalf.
Advance Directives (Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, & Funeral Planning Directions)
Advance directives typically include:
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney – A healthcare power of attorney is a document you sign which designates an individual to have the authority to make healthcare decisions in the event you become incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions.
- A Healthcare Power of Attorney for Minors (if applicable) – This document allows the person you designate to make healthcare decisions for your minor children if you are incapable of making decisions yourself.
- A Living Will – A living will is a document that lets you state your wishes to die naturally without the use of life support measures. A living will is only effective when your attending physician certifies in writing that you (1)have an incurable injury, disease, or illness, (2) your death will occur within a short time, and (3) the use of life prolonging procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process.
- A Funeral Planning Declaration.
Working with Rollins Law Group
Because every client is different, we spend time getting to know our clients so we can customize an estate plan that addresses their unique needs and individual situation. If you are interested in creating an estate plan, need your current estate plan reviewed, or just have questions, please contact Chad Rollins at (317) 558-9677 for a free consultation to help decide on an estate plan that is right for you.