What are the components of estate planning in Indiana?

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A good estate plan will make sure your affairs are in order in the event something were to happen to you. Multiple legal documents work in concert to address issues during your lifetime such as medical directives or an orderly transfer of assets, upon your passing. People usually seek advice from an estate planning lawyer in Indiana when preparing these documents. With legal guidance, you could avoid missing essential issues and reduce stress and expenses on your surviving family.

Preliminary Considerations

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Before diving into drafting your estate plan documents, you need to spend some time thinking about:

  • Heirs/beneficiaries
  • Executor/trustee/attorney in fact
  • Medical decisions

You have likely already chosen your heirs and beneficiaries. However, you should think about the personal situations of each person. For example, you should make special arrangements for heirs who may still be minors at the time of your passing. One option is to establish a trust to hold the assets until the heir matures.

In a similar situation, a special needs child may need to have an inheritance segregated from personal assets permanently with a special needs trust. This arrangement protects the special needs person from losing government benefits.

Other issues you might want to plan for regarding your heirs include having creditors seize an inheritance or losing half of it in a divorce. An estate planning lawyer can evaluate your heirs’ circumstances and propose solutions for your concerns.

Although trusts are not the only mechanism for transferring assets, people frequently use them. This choice naturally necessitates selecting a trustee, which could be an individual or an institution. Either way, you must consider the capabilities of your intended trustee. Not everyone has the skills or time to handle the role. The estate planning lawyers at Webster & Garino, LLC help clients understand what a trustee needs to do so that they can make appropriate selections.

Instead of a Trust, you may decide to do a Will. In a Will, you will need to name an executor or personal representative. The person in this position is responsible for ensuring that your final wishes are observed. The role requires handling paperwork and interacting with the probate court.

Typically it’s best practice to include a power of attorney (POA) in your estate plan. Your POA names an agent or attorney who gains the legal authority to attend to your affairs and make decisions on your behalf. Once again, you need to select trustworthy agents committed to respecting your wishes and capable of performing the tasks.

Main Components

After thinking about your heirs and who to assign the jobs in your estate plan, you and your estate lawyer can begin drafting documents.


The last will and testament is the standard document used to communicate who receives your personal property, real estate, and financial gifts. This document requires submission to the applicable probate court to oversee the process of ensuring your estate’s debts are paid and distributing inheritance to heirs.

You do not have to use a will to transfer everything. The payable on death beneficiaries named on your life insurance policy, bank or brokerage accounts, or retirement account will transfer automatically without needing to be mentioned in a will. You can go through your accounts and policies with an estate planning lawyer in Indiana to confirm which assets transfer automatically and which need to be addressed by a will.

Advance Directive

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An advance directive outlines how to handle health care decisions should you become incapacitated. A health care POA and living will form your advance directive.

  • The health care POA names the person you want to manage your medical care when you cannot.
  • The living will provides your instructions about whether or not you wish to be placed on life support and receive CPR and other medical instructions.

You may wish to consult a physician in addition to an estate lawyer when writing your medical wishes. Not everyone is familiar with the medical situations that may arise and the consequences of different interventions. Insights from professionals can help you decide what to put in your living will.

The advance directive is a component of an estate plan that everyone of any age should complete. A medical emergency can strike anyone, and healthcare management can get bogged down in the court system when someone has not left instructions.

Power of Attorney

The healthcare POA has already been mentioned, but there is also the financial POA. You prepare this document to grant a trusted person the authority to take care of:

  • Banking
  • Paying your bills
  • Filing paperwork with insurance companies or the government
  • Buying or selling real estate
  • Managing investments

This POA can have broad-reaching powers, or you can narrowly define what your attorney can do. Westfield Indiana lawyers can write your POA so that you feel comfortable with its terms.


Many types of trusts exist, and they are a large legal subject on their own. Choosing whether you want one and, if so, what type of trust to set up usually benefits from legal advice. An estate planning lawyer in Indiana can assess your situation and goals and recommend which kind of trust would work best.

How an Estate Planning Lawyer Helps the Process

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Making your estate plan is not an overnight process, and you will need to work through many legal technicalities and consider variables from multiple angles. Initially, your estate lawyer can help you sort through your assets so that you know the current status of property titling and beneficiary designations on your accounts.

Going forward, an estate planning lawyer in Indiana explains the probate fees and taxes that your estate may have to pay. You might need to set aside some money to cover these expenses so that your heirs do not have to pay out of pocket.

Finally, a lawyer can draw upon experience gained while serving other families to advise you about talking to your relatives. Estate planning can become contentious among your loved ones, and you may need help navigating emotional decisions.

Westfield Indiana Lawyers Who Listen

At Webster & Garino, LLC, you can speak with local estate lawyers who want to protect your assets. We respect our client’s goals and can manage everything from document drafting to representing you during a dispute. Call us or email our office today.