Your estate is comprised of everything you own – your personal residence and vehicles, bank accounts and investments, furniture and belongings, life insurance and more. Each and every one of us has an estate, which regardless of its value, needs an estate plan. In Indiana, if the net value of your estate exceeds $50,000 and is not addressed by a plan, it may end up in probate, leaving the court system and the Indiana statutes to decide what happens to you, your money and your belongings.
As we are all aware, our time here on earth is limited. Even after we die, we should have control over how and to whom the assets we worked hard to attain are distributed. A proper estate plan addresses who you want to receive your assets, what you want those people or organizations to receive, and when they are to receive them. If you do not have a plan in place, the state of Indiana will implement one for you that may not mirror your wishes.
The Elements of Estate Planning:
- The process begins with a review of your assets and liabilities. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of using a will versus a living trust, and of using Transfer on Death or Paid on Death designations to transfer assets.
- An estate plan should also address potential incapacities throughout your lifetime. Consider how to best to use a durable power of attorney and a health care representative. Guardians may also need to be designated. Finally, ensure that persons designated to assist have access to the needed medical information through a HIPPA release.
- Take the time to think about who you place in charge of what in your estate plan. Understand the role you are asking them to fulfill, and consider if they are capable and willing to do it. An estate plan cannot compel someone to fulfill a duty.
- End-of-life care is an important part of any estate plan. To help ensure your personal beliefs and wishes are carried out, create a living will that will guide your friends, family and medical providers. It is also a good idea to have discussions with those people about your wishes before they need to be acted upon. Funeral planning declarations should also be considered.
Creating an estate plan may seem overwhelming at first. At Pittman PC, we will help you organize your assets, discuss income and inheritance tax implications, and explain the roles that need to be filled in your plan. Do not wait for the usual triggers (a death, birth or trip) to begin the process. It is never too early to create peace of mind for you and your family!
Please call 317-636-5561 or send us an email to schedule an appointment and for a copy of our Estate Planning Questionnaire.