Proper estate planning provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones that when death or incapacity occurs everything will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes. A little time and money spent on estate planning can save a lot of time, money and heartache later on. It is a good idea to meet with an attorney to discuss your estate planning, rather than use forms that you find online, as forms that you find online may not meet your state’s statutory requirements. Additionally, your attorney may think of issues that you would not have thought to address in your estate planning on your own.
A will allows you to direct how you want your property to pass once you die. It does not avoid the probate process. In addition to directing the disposition of your property, we can also help you set up testamentary trusts for your children, specify your preference in the event that you need a guardian, select your executor and more.
Probate is the process of proving that a will is the actual will and was properly executed in accordance with the laws of the state where it was made. If a will is self-proving, witnesses will not be required to testify as to the testator’s execution of the document. Otherwise, at least one witness will be required to appear in court. After the will is proven, an executor is appointed in accordance with the will and letters testamentary or qualifications are issued. The personal representative can then begin the process of administering the estate, making sure that all valid claims against the estate and taxes are paid, and then disbursing the remaining funds in accordance with the will. If a person does not have a will, beneficiaries will inherit in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, which vary from state to state. Probate can be avoided if the estate is less than $50,000 in Indiana or less than $15,000 in Kentucky. Additionally, there are some mechanisms for passing property outside of probate, and you should speak with an attorney about the benefits and downsides of some of those mechanisms.
Powers Of Attorney
There are many different types of powers of attorney. A power of attorney allows another person to perform an act on your behalf. Powers of attorney can be effective immediately or only upon your incapacity. Powers of attorney can also be general or limited. Creating a power of attorney can eliminate the need for going through the process of creating a guardianship in the event you become incapacitated, and is definitely a worthwhile investment, as they are relatively quick and inexpensive to create.
A living will is a document that allows you to make health care decisions concerning the use of artificially provided food, nutrition and hydration in the event that you become terminally ill and lose the ability to make your own decisions. In other words, you can specify whether or not you want them to pull the plug. In a living will, you can also specify whether you would like to be an organ donor, and you can also appoint a health care surrogate to make health care decisions on your behalf.