Whether or not you have ever stepped foot into an attorney’s office, you already have an estate plan. The State of Indiana provides an estate plan for everyone. This plan is available for the low-price of free and if you do not take steps to change the plan it will decide how your assets are distributed upon your death. This collection of statutes, known as the Probate Code, is available on the State website as Title 29 Article 1 of the Indiana Code. A person that dies without a will dies intestate, which means that the distribution of their probate assets will be determined by the Probate Code.
The Probate Code is not the only estate planning that you have probably already done. Many people make designations on their retirement, investment, and other financial accounts. These designations tell the institution holding the asset what to do with it when you die. For most of us, we designate our spouse and then children. This is the distribution scheme that most people settle on after coming into our office and discussing many of the possibilities available to them.
Did you know that if you die as a married person (and no children) without a will, the Probate Code says that your parents will be entitled to a portion of your assets which deprives your spouse of necessary resources to move on after your death? This is a surprise to most of our clients. The simple solution to this quirk in the Probate Code is to have a will prepared by an attorney knowledgeable about estate planning issues.
An attorney can discuss the best way to distribute your assets and help plan for any possible state or federal taxes that may result from your death. This may include a will, trust, or changing beneficiary designations on your assets. Typically, an attorney prepared estate plan will also include an advanced health care directives (including living will) and a power of attorney document.
Take Charge of Your Estate Plan
It is important to be informed about the estate plan that the State has provided you. If you want to take charge of your family’s future by reviewing your estate plan, please contact an attorney in your area to help you navigate these important issues.
If you are like me, you got a little pink surprise in your Porter County Spring property tax bill.
The State of Indiana is requiring taxpayers who receive the homestead standard deduction to verify that they are eligible to receive the benefit. You must file State Form 53569. Failure to file the form will result in the removal of your homestead credit exemption. Residents of Porter County received the form (pink sheet) with their tax statements and must submit the form before June 1, 2010 to the Porter County Auditor at 155 Indiana Avenue, Room 204, Valparaiso, IN 46383.
A new medical study looks at a hot issue from the recent debate about the nation’s health care system: planning medical care for our final days. The study found that a lot more people have outlined their wishes in advance than previously thought, and that those directives very often prove useful.
Visit NPR for the full segment.
Other important documents for your health care are the Appointment of Health Care Representative, Health Care Power of Attorney, and an Release for Medical Information (HIPAA Release). To learn more about these documents and how they can affect your health care, please call Hiestand Law Office to set up an appointment. We can review your current directives to make sure they express your wishes and that they are up-to-date.
Attorney Sarah Lawson and her family (husband Scott and daughter Elizabeth) volunteered with the Duneland Area Exchange Club to help with bingo at The Waters of Duneland on October 26th. Afterwards, the Lawsons visited residents and handed out candy.
Attorney Sarah Lawson attended the open house hosted by East Wind Acupuncture on October 24th to celebrate National Oriental Medicine Day. East Wind Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine clinic utilizing acupuncture, Chinese medicine (herbs), and massage therapy to help restore and maintain health.
Attorneys Terry Hiestand and Sarah Lawson attended the memorial service hosted by the Porter County Bar Association for the attorneys who passed away in the past year. Attorney Terry Hiestand spoke in memory of John Wallace Ruge. The other attorneys honored were Delmar R. Hoeppner, Garrett V. Conover, Judge Allen Sharp, and Richard M. Cagan. Attorney Lawson is the secretary of the Porter County Bar Association and was part of the planning committee.
Attorney Sarah Lawson (with the Duneland Area Exchange Club) helped paint the old store building owned by the Duneland Resale Shop on October 24, 2009. The Club painted the old storeroom; however, Ms. Lawson left early to attend her daughter’s last gymnastics lesson.
Duneland United Churches Resale Inc. is a God-centered, not-for-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to helping others. Quality used clothing and merchandise which is donated to us is recycled and sold. Proceeds are used to assist service agencies, missions and community needs.
Attorney Terry Hiestand attended the Chamber Network Night held at the Porter County Expo Center on Thursday, October 22, 2009. The Chamber Network Night is presented by the Porter County Chamber Coalition and held annually on the fourth Thursday in October. The event is a business to business trade show and provides opportunity to network with over 150 business professionals and 800 guests. Terry enjoyed visiting the booths, renewing old acquaintances and making new friends Terry had an opportunity to speak with Ric Federighi, General Manager of WIMS radio in Michigan City and WIMS’ program director, Johnny Rush, and was able to demonstrate his mastery of WIMS trivia honed by listening to the “Talk of the South Shore”. As in past years, the event was well attended and Terry is looking forward to attending next year.
Attorney Sarah Lawson is on the committee planning the Wine Tasting and Silent Auction hosted by the Duneland Area Exchange Club. The Wine Tasting will be held on November 22, 2009 from 3 – 6 pm. Advance tickets are $40 and may be purchased at Hiestand Law Office. The Club is seeking silent auction items and sponsors.
On October 16, 2009, Attorney Terry Hiestand attended the Open House hosted by Farm Bureau Insurance of Indiana to celebrate the opening of its new Chesterton offices (recently constructed on the former site of Pizza Hut on Indian Boundary Road). The new brick building currently houses three agents (with space for a fourth agent). Guests were treated to a food buffet and provided with an array of advertising specialties commemorating the transition to the new site from Farm Bureau’s former offices.