Estate Planning and Probate In Indiana

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. 

estate planning and probate

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.  

  1. 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.

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