In this article...
Estate planning can be a complex process. Many people avoid it because they don’t want to contemplate the circumstances. However, the purpose of an estate plan is to protect your family. Your family’s future is vital for your loved ones and heirs to have a smooth experience if you become incapacitated or die. Estate planning will ease closing out your estate at one of the more difficult times in their lives.
Overview of Estate Planning Laws
There are similar steps in 2023 in planning an estate that there always have been. For help on the steps necessary to plan an estate, please see 10 Things Every Indiana Estate Plan Should Include
Planning your estate in 2023 should include the designation of a healthcare representative, financial representative, and determination of beneficiaries. Then you will need to decide how to transfer your estate.
Health Care Representative
A health care agent is a designated representative that a person chooses to make their medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for themselves. To appoint a healthcare representative, you must have a written document that meets the following conditions:
- It must be in writing
- Signed by the appointor or at the appointer’s direction in their presence.
- Be witnessed by an adult other than the person appointed to be the Health Care Agent.
The appointment begins when the appointer becomes incapacitated and will end if they regain their abilities to function.
The healthcare agent must act in the party’s best interests and in good faith.
If the healthcare agent is unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties, they must notify all relevant parties. And an appointer can revoke their appointment as well if they are capable.
Choosing a financial representative is also a necessary step. Depending on your assets, you may want to choose someone with business experience. Even a simple estate will benefit from someone with good financial skills. The party chosen should, at a minimum, be logical in their decision-making. They will make some critical decisions for you, such as:
- Banking Transactions
- Real Estate Transactions
- Business transactions
The financial representative will be in charge of vital details of this party’s life. It is essential to have an Indiana Durable Power of Attorney Document signed correctly with notarization to ensure stability. An estate planning lawyer can guide you through these details.
Another step is making sure all assets are accounted for and listed in a document for reference. People often keep essential details and the location of important documents in their heads and do not relay this information to any other person. This can create a challenging and expensive road for loved ones who will have to discover or guess about information when the time comes. Having a file or folder with a list of assets and important documents relating to your estate matters is vital and easy to pave the way for efficiency.
It might seem pretty straightforward, but naming your beneficiary or beneficiaries is very important. It may not be overlooked, especially if there are no obvious related parties. Stating the names of who gets what may seem simple, but it needs to be in writing clearly, so there are no misunderstandings.
Decide how to transfer the estate.
A will is a prevalent way to transfer an estate. Trusts are becoming more common as well.
A will is a document that designates who will get what upon your death. The testator can appoint an executor, beneficiaries, and other vital details from guardians of the children and funeral arrangements. A will can be revoked at any time during your life, and the testator can also make amendments. In Indiana, for a will to be valid, the will must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the testator
- In the presence of two witnesses that are not beneficiaries
- The testator must state that this is their will or make it known
If the will is found valid in Indiana, it will be admitted to the probate court, where the estate will be administered and settled.
A trust is another type of way to distribute your assets. A trust is an instrument created by a party or grantor who puts assets in a trust to be distributed by a trustee to designated beneficiaries. There are several types of trusts. A living trust can be created and effective while a grantor is still alive. A testamentary trust takes effect upon the death of the grantor. A trust will not need to go through probate; however, other assets may still need to go into probate even with a trust. An estate attorney can help you create a trust properly.
If there is no estate plan or will established, a different process will be followed.
There have been no significant recent updates in 2023 for Indiana estate planning. In 2018 there were Federal estate and gift law changes, and more federal changes may come. This means it is a perfect time to talk to an estate attorney and review your family plans for the future.
Call our office at (630) 324-6666 or schedule a consultation with one of our experienced estate lawyers today. You can also fill out our confidential contact form, and we will get back to you shortly.
What to Expect From a Consultation
The purpose of a consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Consultations may carry a charge, depending on the facts of the matter and the area of law. The cost of your consultation, if any, is communicated to you by our intake team or the attorney.