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What happens after you die? An existential question, yes, but also an important estate planning inquiry. There are many things to consider when it comes to the end of your life, such as what will happen to your estate? How will your final debts and taxes be paid off? How can you secure your family's welfare now so they aren't saddled with too many responsibilities later?
There are plenty of tools to help you with estate planning in Indiana. Whether you live in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis or Evansville, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo's Indiana estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family's future and connect with a qualified local attorney.
The durable power of attorney is a legal method of ensuring that your financial and health care needs are taken care of should you become incapacitated or incompetent to make your own decisions. Indiana law allows you to assign a trusted adult the power of attorney over your affairs to act on your behalf. You can specify what kinds of power you want the representative to have or not have during specific situations, such as if you're comatose or your health has degraded your competency.
Trusts are an alternative estate planning method Indiana residents can use apart from a will. There are specific advantages to using trusts to manage the distribution of your estate after death, such as lower estate taxes, privacy and avoiding probate. However, trusts can be needlessly expensive if you're inexperienced at setting one up or managing it.
A trust is created when you (the settlor or trustor) transfer ownership of assets to another person (the trustee). The trustee manages the trust's assets as if it were their own but to the settlor's benefit. After the settlor's death, the trustee transfers the assets to specified beneficiaries.
There are many different types of trusts in Indiana. These are three of the most common trusts used in estate planning:
A Last Will and Testament (or simply a “will”) is a document in which you can manage the distribution of your estate to beneficiaries and arrange for your minor children's guardianship should you have no surviving spouse to care for them.
You can use a will to specify which assets will be transferred to which beneficiaries upon your death. You can transfer assets to beneficiaries outside of your family using a will. If you were to leave assets out of your will and their distribution isn't governed by other means, they would be inherited as intestate assets by your family.
Specific assets of your estate may not be included in your will. You can only will away assets that you solely own, meaning you can't will away jointly owned, marital or community property. You also can't will away assets that are already promised to beneficiaries in other legal contracts such as living trusts, insurance or financial accounts with survivorship or “transfer upon death” conditions.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified estate planning lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.