January 2, 2020
Divorce represents a significant shift in your life. As a result, you need to examine and update your estate plan after a divorce thoroughly. Provisions that included your ex-spouse or in-laws could produce undesirable outcomes. For example, an ex-spouse left as a trustee on a joint trust that you established during your marriage might end up in control of your assets should you pass away. The lawyers at Webster & Garino understand the areas where estate planning in Indiana intersects with divorce.
Your will might contain multiple provisions that include your ex-spouse or in-laws in various capacities. When updating your will, you could select a new personal representative or executor if your ex-spouse initially filled that role.
Powers of Attorney
You might also have executed powers of attorney that granted your ex-spouse authority to make financial and medical decisions for you during a crisis. You will probably want to name new agents to be in charge of these aspects of your life.
Legal advice about estate planning in Indiana could alert you to problems within a revocable living trust or joint trust. You might want to replace an ex-spouse with a new trustee or remove an ex-spouse as the trust beneficiary. Additionally, you might want to create a trust for your minor children with a trustee other than your ex-spouse. Without a separate trust for your children in the event of your death, an ex-spouse who is also the children’s guardian will gain control of the money that you left your children while they remain under 18.
After a divorce, parents of minor children might choose to alter previous guardianship assignments that named an in-law as a guardian. Some people also have concerns about their ex-spouses gaining guardianship of children, especially when a substance abuse problem makes them unfit. A lawyer might help you prepare for the possibility of challenging an ex-spouse’s guardianship of your children.
Many financial accounts contain beneficiary designations or transfer on death clauses that reassign accounts automatically. Your ex-spouse will remain as the beneficiary on life insurance policies, investment accounts, or bank accounts unless you change it.
Contact Us for Help
At Webster & Garino, you can consult Noblesville divorce attorneys to gain a big-picture about your financial rights and needs during and after a divorce. We can guide you through the process of settling a divorce and updating your estate plan. Contact us today.
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November 20, 2019
Indiana guardianships authorize a person to care for an incapacitated or disabled adult or minor child. Depending on the nature of the guardianship, care can involve attending to the ward’s personal needs, managing financial affairs, or both. To pursue guardianship of an individual, who would be known as the ward or protected person, you need to file a Petition for Guardianship with the applicable court and receive an appointment from a Judge. Because guardianship laws and petitions overlap with issues related to estate planning in Indiana, you can ask for guidance from an estate planning lawyer in Indiana at Webster & Garino.
Determine the Extent of Guardianship
Your Indiana Petition for Guardianship must specify whether you need the guardianship of the person, guardianship of the estate, or both. If you only need to serve as guardian of the person, then you would not have authority over financial matters and assets. Some situations will only call for limited or temporary guardianship.
Prepare for the Court Hearing
The process of becoming a legal guardian requires you to notify the close family members of the proposed ward as well as other parties or institutions that will bear responsibility toward the person. A prospective guardian should also assemble evidence that shows a thorough understanding of the ward’s health and financial position. The Court will want to see a Physician’s Report that confirms that the person cannot manage personal needs or finances. A guardianship lawyer in Indiana can prepare the necessary Court paperwork.
What the Court Considers
Multiple factors guide a Judge’s decision. Potential wards who can do so may express their wishes about who becomes a guardian. If the person is incapatitated or cannot speak, any guardianship desires stated in a power of attorney or will can be presented to the court. The relationship between a proposed guardian and ward can matter too. Overall, the law requires the Court to rule based on the best interests of the ward. If a judge issues a letter of guardianship, the document will explain the specific terms and powers of the appointment.
A legal guardian needs to prepare an inventory of the ward’s property for the court within 90 days of appointment. A temporary guardianship shortens this requirement to 30 days. Every two years thereafter, the guardian must report to the court about the ward’s health and finances.
Seek Legal Assistance
If a person is appointed guardian over you, that person will have control over your healthcare and financial decisions. If you don’t want the appointment of a guardian left entirely up to the discretion of the Court, it is important that you discuss your estate plan with an Indiana Estate planning attorney. At Webster and Garino our Westfield estate planning attorneys will advise you on how to avoid a guardianship proceeding with the use of an Indiana power of attorney, Indiana Living Will and/or possibly avoid a contested guardianship proceeding by simply appointing a guardian in your Will for your children.
Becoming a guardian imposes multiple legal duties, and a consultation with a guardianship attorney can prepare you to comply with the demands of the role. Contact a Westfield guardianship attorney at Webster and Garino and schedule an appointment today.
October 30, 2019
The probate court system in Indiana frequently plays a role in settling an estate after someone dies. Estate planning in Indiana allows you to prepare for probate. Strategic planning could even limit or eliminate the court’s involvement in your affairs. Estate law includes many complicated elements. An Indiana estate planning lawyer at Webster & Garino can help provide individual guidance based on your assets and personal goals. As you begin the estate planning process, you should become familiar with basic concepts, as explained by these three rules.
- Probate Freezes an Estate
Unless an estate’s value is under $50,000, an Indiana probate court will oversee the distribution of an individual’s estate. If someone dies without a Will or intestate, then the probate court will look to Indiana probate law to select a Personal Representative and identify potential heirs. If you die without a Will, then you leave the distribution of your estate entirely up to Indiana probate law, which may be different than what you intended. If you die with a Will, or testate, then the Court will look to your Will to oversee the distribution of your estate to beneficiaries. If the estate is insolvent, meaning there is not enough money in the estate to pay creditors, a challenge to the Will or other conflict between beneficiaries, the Court will supervise the estate, which requires the Personal Representative to seek Court approval before taking any actions with respect to administering the estate.
The probate court prevents distribution of assets while it validates the will, notifies heirs and creditors, evaluates appraisals for the estate’s value, pays taxes, and distributes assets. The claims of creditors and tax authorities on estate assets have priority. Heirs only receive what is left over. This can be a lengthy process, but it’s meant to prevent fraud. Someone assigned as the executor of a will or concerned about the terms of a Will should contact an Indiana probate lawyer.
- Not All Assets Require Probate
Any assets set up to transfer automatically to a beneficiary upon someone’s death do not require probate supervision. Property held under joint tenancy will immediately become the property of the surviving tenant or tenants. Beneficiaries named on life insurance policies receive their funds without probate oversight. Additionally, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries automatically transfer assets. People in Indiana also have the option of setting up living trusts. These trusts hold a person’s assets. This approach eliminates the necessity of probate court, which significantly reduces administration costs and time.
- Estate Planning Isn’t Just About Death
Everyone should prepare for the possibility of mental or physical incapacity. The legal instrument called a durable power of attorney grants your named agent the authority to manage your health care when you are not able. You could also declare your desires about end-of-life health care decisions within a living will.
The decisions that you make concerning your health care and assets are deeply personal. By consulting a Westfield Indiana estate planning attorney at Webster & Garino, you will gain valuable insights about how to transfer your assets, provide for minors, or limit stress and expenses for your family after your passing. Contact us today to receive specific advice about estate planning in Indiana.
October 26, 2019
Most people feel a sense of relief after they complete their Indiana estate plans. Knowing that you’ve made arrangements for your assets and beneficiaries likely comforts you. However, to protect your interests fully, you should review your trust and other estate plan elements about every five years. Estate planning in Indiana is often an ongoing process. Many issues, like significant life events, estate law changes, changes in the value of your estate, or relocation, could require you to update your trust documents.
Major Life Events
Marriage, divorce, death, and birth represent typical events that might prompt you to remove or add beneficiaries. As the years go by, minors named within your trust as beneficiaries could reach adult age. This change in status could alter your original intentions for a trust. You also might need to adjust a trust to reflect the needs of a beneficiary who develops a severe disability, falls prey to an addiction, or becomes mired in debt.
The death of an existing trustee naturally shifts responsibility to the successor trustee. Even the illness of a trustee could motivate you to name one or more successor trustees or replace the current trustee.
Change in Estate Value
A significant rise or fall in the value of your assets likely affects the function of a trust. The loss of assets might eliminate a beneficiary’s inheritance. Alternatively, the acquisition of assets means that you need to account for them within an estate plan. A Carmel Indiana estate planning lawyer at Webster & Garino can inform you about the consequences for your trust after a change in estate value.
State laws handle estates in largely similar manners, but differences remain among the states. A Carmel Indiana lawyer can help you update a plan to comply with local state laws. Failing to review your estate plan after moving into Indiana could undermine your estate planning objectives.
Changes to state or federal trust or tax law could affect your trust. Having a Carmel Indiana estate planning lawyer review your plans occasionally could alert you to important issues.
Approaching Age 70-1/2
If you hold an IRA, 401(k), or another type of qualified retirement plan, you’ll have to start taking distributions when you reach age 70-1/2. These distributions might reduce funds that you had set up to go to a beneficiary.
At Webster & Garino, we provide estate planning in Indiana. Our guidance can help empower you to protect your assets and achieve an efficient transfer of wealth. If you have not looked at your trust lately, contact us today for a full review.
October 7, 2019
A trust creates a separate legal entity that holds some or all of an estate’s assets. A grantor develops the trust and supplies the assets to distribute them to a person or organization at a later time. The recipient is known as the beneficiary. Beneficiaries can be either individuals or organizations, like a school or charity. The person or organization responsible for managing the trust and distributing assets according to its terms is known as the trustee. The grantor selects both the trustees and beneficiaries. A Carmel Indiana lawyer can advise you during the process of designing a trust and choosing trustees.
Fiduciary duties bind the trustee to act in the best interests of the beneficiary while following the rules set forth within the trust. A trustee’s responsibilities encompass preparing and filing the necessary paperwork with a court or other government agency when transferring ownership of trust assets to a beneficiary. Trustees often manage investments and other duties necessary for the maintenance of the assets. They have to keep thorough financial records about the status of the trust.
A trustee’s records provide proof of compliance with the terms of the trust. At times, disputes arise between trustees and beneficiaries. Careful record keeping can prepare a trustee to defend the trust from unhappy beneficiaries. These conflicts typically result from trust terms that limit distributions or impose requirements upon beneficiaries before they can receive funds.
Selecting a trustee for your trust is a critical decision. Some people choose professional trustees at financial institutions who have the training to manage investments and maintain proper records. Alternatively, you have the option of assigning the position to any trustworthy individual capable of the task.
In general, beneficiaries receive distributions from trusts as long as they qualify according to the terms of a trust. They sometimes need to supply records that they received distributions so that the trustee can mark the transactions as complete.
When beneficiaries suspect that trustees are mismanaging assets or not following the terms of the trust, they can petition a court to remove the trustee. Because beneficiaries generally have little power over the operation of a trust, they must provide evidence of mismanagement to succeed in court against a trustee. The representation of a Carmel Indiana attorney help beneficiaries understand their legal positions and prepare for court appearances.
At Webster & Garino, you can discuss your concerns and goals with a Carmel Indiana estate planning lawyer knowledgeable about trust and estate law. Contact us today with any of your estate planning questions.
August 22, 2019
Estate planning in Indiana gives you the ability to control the distribution of your assets, protect your family members from inconvenience, and shield heirs from creditors. The process might make you initially uncomfortable, but a completed estate plan could deliver significant benefits and peace of mind. You could protect assets while substantially reducing future stress and expenses for your family. A thorough estate plan has the potential to limit delays in asset transfers, reduce or eliminate probate court fees, and prevent your finances from falling into disarray if you become incapacitated.
Express Your Wishes
Sudden death or severe medical crisis could leave your family wondering what do to with your estate or how to approach your health care. If you don’t have a will, then a probate court will apply state law to determine your heirs. Without a plan, your heirs might be exposed to taxes and court fees that cause financial difficulties.
If injury or disease incapacitates you, then your loved ones might not know your preferences for medical care. They would also lack access to your medical records or bank accounts. A Carmel Indiana attorney at Webster & Garino could guide you through the development of essential documents like a living will and financial power of attorney.
Probate Avoidance and Privacy
Probate courts oversee wills and make decisions about estates left behind by people without wills. Estates that go through probate become a matter of public record. By avoiding probate, you could enable the private distribution of assets.
You might wish to explore estate planning strategies that remove portions of your estate or all of it from the probate system. One of our attorneys could research your options for estate planning in Indiana. If your final arrangements allow you to avoid probate, your family could avoid a prolonged court process and numerous legal fees.
You might worry about a young adult getting too much money too quickly by way of an estate plan, but this concern can be addressed. You might want to structure your estate plan, usually through the use of trusts, to provide specific sums to your heirs at different ages. You can also take steps to help prevent creditors from seizing an inheritance. Provisions to prevent the loss of inheritance during a divorce are also possible. A Carmel Indiana attorney could suggest estate planning strategies that address your specific concerns.
By consulting an attorney at Webster & Garino, you could learn about issues pertinent to your estate, such as business succession, asset distribution among children and stepchildren, and support for a surviving spouse. Contact us today to begin estate planning in Indiana.
February 15, 2019
The thought of hiring an estate planning attorney is an unnerving one for many—after all, speaking with an estate planning attorney means that one is thinking about his own death. However, without having your wishes documented, your loved ones may enter into a heated legal battle after your passing. Since life is unpredictable, it is never too early to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Taking Care of Your Children
If you have children, you may have a friend or family member in mind who would take care of them if you pass away. However, to ensure this transition goes smoothly after your death, you should designate this guardian in your will. When children are left without a guardian, surviving family members may fight over custody.
Handling Your Property
Businesses, homes, retirement accounts, and other types of property must all be distributed when someone passes away. If you are a business owner, what happens to your share of the business should be addressed. If you own a home, you should designate who receives it in your plan. Having your wishes clearly laid out helps your family tremendously.
Estate planning matters do not only involve death. For example, you may create a living will that lays out your wishes in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Tragedies such as car accidents may change a life in a split second—therefore, it is important for your loved ones to know your preferences.
At Webster & Garino LLC, Our Estate Plan Attorneys Are Ready to Serve You
The estate planning attorneys in Westfield, Indiana at Webster & Garino are experienced in all types of estate planning matters. To schedule a free consultation with our firm, call 317-565-1818 today.