Indiana Wills, Trust, and Probate
A well drafted will is imperative when preparing for life after your death or incapacity. Ensuring that your family and loved ones are taken care of is a thought that crosses all of our minds, regardless of your wealth or age. There are different vehicles to consider when thinking about the future of your estate, including a will, trust, or the probate process. If one does not create an estate planning mechanism before death, he or she will leave the distribution of his or her property up to a court. To ensure that your estate planning mechanism is in compliance with Indiana law, consult an Indiana estate planning attorney before creating a will or trust.
There are two types of wills in Indiana. These two types have a few different requirements in order to create a legally valid will in Indiana. These requirements include:
Changing a Will in Indiana
Indiana law allows one to change his or her will in the following ways:
In regard to revocation of a traditional non-hand written will, the above four ways apply. In order for any of these ways to be effectively utilized, the testator must have the intent to revoke the original will through the act.
In regard to revocation of a nuncupative will, revocation can only occur by the creation of a subsequent nuncupative will.
To ensure that you successfully create and/or change a will, it is imperative that you consult an Indiana wills attorney.
Another estate planning tool used in Indiana is a trust—an alternative and effective way to distribute your property according to your specific wishes. This tool is used to transfer assets to a beneficiary, but will do so by initially transferring the assets to a trustee (a third party). The trustee has a number of responsibilities, including ensuring that the deceased's assets are safely and responsibly taken care of until the assets are eventually transferred to the original beneficiary. A trust is not enforceable in Indiana unless there is evidence in writing of the terms and the creator's signature or his or her agent's signature.
There are several different kinds of trusts recognized under Indiana law, including a life insurance trust, trust for care of animal, charitable trusts, and non-charitable trusts. The variety of trusts allows one the flexibility to distribute his or her assets in a way that saves taxes while simultaneously serving one's wishes in the exact time and manner he or she wants to distribute assets. As always, consulting with an Indiana trusts attorney will ensure that you are using the trust mechanism effectively and in compliance with Indiana law.
Upon death or incapacity, one's property will be distributed to those that are listed in his or her will. If there is no will or other document regarding property distribution, Indiana's intestate succession law will govern the distribution of one's property or assets.
Under Indiana law, potential beneficiaries include (non-exclusive):