An Estate Plan – Everyone has One

Estate PlanWhether 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.

Beneficiary Designations

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.

Unintended Consequences

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 David Hiestand to help you navigate these important issues.