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Heather Jones

If you came across this article, chances are good that you are a resident of Indiana who has decided it is time to start planning for your family after you are no longer here. The best place to start is with an experienced Indiana estate planning attorney who can help you gather all of the necessary information to begin the estate planning process and create an Indiana estate plan that will meet your goals.  

Depending on the complexity of your property and finances there can be many components of an Indiana estate plan to consider. Every estate plan needs time to be developed, it should be done by an experienced Indiana estate planner and you will need to consider all of your options very carefully. Additionally, you will need to take time to seriously consider who you name as a beneficiary, your healthcare power of attorney and your executor. Read on the find out the top ten things that every Indiana estate plan should include.  

1 - An Early Start

Estate planning takes time and serious consideration. It is not something you want to rush through. A sloppy, improperly formed estate plan will only mean problems when it is time for your estate to be distributed. Furthermore, the longer you wait to create your estate plan the greater the likelihood of the plan being challenged by beneficiaries claiming you were under some type of duress or coercion or even that you were of unsound mind. You want to have enough time to really think about what you want and to talk with your attorney about your goals. Proper advance planning will ensure that your wishes are carried out, without conflict, in the manner that you desire.  

2 - An Experienced Indiana Estate Planning Attorney

A mistake in the creation of an estate plan and its documents can cause a great deal of stress and unhappiness for your family once you are gone. Furthermore, estate disputes can be time consuming and therefore very costly. Your best bet is always to consult with an experienced Indiana estate planning attorney who can provide you with a comprehensive plan to secure your assets after you pass. An experienced attorney can discuss your goals with you and develop a custom plan that will protect your assets, avoid unnecessary fees and taxes and cut off possible disputes before they happen.  

3 - Serious Consideration To Naming Beneficiaries And Heirs

While it may seem that naming beneficiaries or heirs would be a simple, straightforward process, you should think carefully about who you are going to name. If the beneficiary is a minor child or perhaps bad with money, that is something you will need to take into consideration. You also need to think about how the beneficiary will receive whatever you left them, do you want it to pass to the beneficiary via a will, trust, or specially designated bank account? Do you want to add them to an insurance policy? An experienced attorney can help you with these issues.  

4 - Advance Directive

An important component of a good Indiana estate plan includes something called an advance directive, a healthcare power of attorney and a living will are two legal documents that, together, form an advance directive.  

The healthcare power of attorney is the document that informs your family and healthcare providers who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate what you want in terms of medical treatment. The living will is a document that advises what you want done in regard to medical treatments like life support, comfort care (pain relief) and CPR. It is important to be very clear about your wishes concerning situations where life sustaining measures must be taken and the living will addresses that for you and you family.  

Your choice in a healthcare power of attorney is also crucial and you want to take your time making it. The person you give healthcare power of attorney to will be in charge of making decisions inconformity with your living will and potentially have to override the arguments and objections of your family, you will need to choose someone who is strong-willed and also able to make quick decisions if circumstances change on your behalf.  

5 - Living Trust Or Other Types Of Trusts

A revocable living trust is becoming increasingly popular as a way to transfer assets on death and avoid probate. If you want to incorporate a revocable living trust into your global estate plan it is important to understand that all trusts take maintenance and upkeep, you can’t just create it and then not do anything further with it. Your Indiana estate planning attorney will be able to help you know what to expect in your particular situation. There are many other types of trusts that you could utilize to protect and grow your assets so a good estate plan will take that into consideration.

6 – A Last Will And Testament

A last will and testament is the document you use to transfer personal property, real property (real estate) and make gifts to friends and loved ones. It is one of the many documents you can use to transfer property upon your passing. Sometimes, depending on the size of your estate, a simple will is sufficient. Other times, your estate plan will include a trust or trusts and a pour-over will. A pour-over will is a document that typically goes hand-in-hand with a living trust. The pour-over will instructs that property that was not transferred to your living trust while you were alive be transferred to your trust upon death in order to avoid going through probate.

7 - A Plan For The Safe Keeping And Access To Your Estate Documents

Decide on a place to store your estate documents where they can be easily located when necessary and safe from potential tampering. Some possible options would be at your attorney’s office, in a family safe, using an online document storage system and with the probate court or court administrator’s office. It is important that certain individuals, like your healthcare power of attorney or your executor know how to access these documents if and when the need arises.

8 - Information On Payable On Death Accounts

If you have an account or a certificate of deposit at a bank or credit union you have the power to name a beneficiary for that account. The funds in the account will be transferred to the named beneficiary in the event of your death. These types of accounts are called “payable on death” or “POD” accounts. Payable on death accounts are extremely useful and something you should discuss with your Indiana estate planner. The benefit of these types of accounts is that the transfer is automatic, there is no creating a trust for the funds to move through and there is no involvement with a will and the probate process.  

9 - A Trusted POA/Executor/Financial POA

The selection of any of the above is a serious undertaking. A healthcare power of attorney needs to be a trusted individual who can not only see to it that your advance directives are followed but also be able to exercise good judgment and quick decision making skills in case an unanticipated medical event occurs and they have to give direction to your healthcare provider. A financial power of attorney is a person with complete power over your finances so if you decide to take this step with someone it should be an intelligent and trustworthy individual who, ideally, will never benefit from any of the financial decision they make on your behalf. Finally your executor needs to be someone who is willing and able to undertake the task of assisting with any probate proceedings, which can mean a lot of work depending on the size of your estate and the terms of your estate plan.  

10 - A Plan To Handle Any Taxes And Fees

Your Indiana estate planning attorney will take into account how your estate plan covers the taxes and fees associated with the distribution of your estate. A good estate plan not only accounts for taxes and fees but actively works to minimize them, leaving more for your family after you pass. Be certain to being up the issues of taxes and fees early and often so that everyone involved on the estate planning process is on the same page as far as expectations.  

This is not a comprehensive list of everything a good Indiana estate plan should include but they are certainly issues you will need to address along with others. If you need help with an Indiana estate plan, feel free to call O’Flaherty Law at (630)-324-6666 or fill out our confidential contact form, one of our experienced estate planning attorneys would be happy to help you.  

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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