Estate planning encompasses a variety of legal steps that you can take to protect, control, or distribute your assets. Our probate lawyer can assist you with any of the following:
- Estate administration, which includes asset management and distribution
- Funeral planning declaration wherein you establish your burial preferences
- Guardianship measures, including guardianship administration and standby guardianship declarations
- Last will and testament documents
- Living will or life prolonging declaration
- Power of attorney, both durable and health care
- Trusts of all varieties, including special needs, revocable, and irrevocable arrangements
Not sure which measures you should consider? We evaluate your current situation, concerns, and existing estate plan to decide on your next best step.
Last Will & Testament
A Last Will and Testament provides how your assets will be distributed upon your death. A will only applies to “probate assets” which are assets held in your name individually. If you die without a Will, the laws of the State of Indiana decide who receives your assets. A Will also allows you the opportunity to name a guardian for any minor children and to choose an executor to settle your affairs. Absent a valid Will, these decisions are left up to the local court.
Non-probate assets do not pass according to your Will. Typical non-probate assets are life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts 401(k)s, joint bank or investment accounts, and any other asset that passes to a named beneficiary upon your death. Anytime you experience a life-changing event, a review of your non-probate asset beneficiary designation is essential. The failure to do so can result in assets passing to an undesired individual or unequal treatment of beneficiaries.
Durable Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney gives you the opportunity to name the individual or individuals who will handle your financial affairs effective on a certain date on in the event you become incapacitated. If you become unable to handle your financial affairs and have no Power of Attorney, your loved ones must seek court-appointed guardianship to assist you.
Health Care Power of Attorney
The Health Care Power of Attorney names the individual or individuals who will make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate yourself. Without a Health Care Power of Attorney, there may be conflicting directions by your spouse, adult children, parents, and adult siblings, and a court-appointed guardianship may be necessary.
Living Will Declaration of Life Prolonging Procedures Declaration
Depending upon your personal preferences, these documents are used to convey your wishes about whether you want to be kept alive through artificial means when your death is imminent. Although not legally binding, the documents provide guidance for the person you name as your health care representative (in the Health Care Power of Attorney)to make informed decisions for you.
Funeral Planning Declaration
Indiana law now allows you to put in writing your preferences about the disposition of your body, funeral home choice, services and goods you want for your funeral and who will enforce these decisions for you. If the document is properly drafted and executed, it is binding on your family and estate.
Standby Guardian Declaration
The Standby Guardian Declaration allows parents of minor children and those serving as legal guardian over an individual to name someone who can assume the role of guardian in the event of death or disability of the parent(s) or guardian.