Estate Planning Probate

Wills

Indiana Will Attorney

There are several types of wills that can be used to effectively accomplish your goals:

  • Simple will: Basic, Easy, Used for distribution of your assets and Guardianship.
  • Pour-over will: This Will disperses your assets into your trust that were not previously established in your trust.
  • Testamentary trust will: This establishes one or more trusts for the distribution of your assets.
  • Self-proved will: This type of will is established in solemn form with affidavits of witnesses present.
  • Joint will: Assets are split between two people that are in agreement of asset distribution, often married individuals.

How to Create a Will in Indiana

There are certain requirements necessary and or advisable to make your will enforceable.

Must be at least 18 years old —
Of sound mind.
In Writing
A Notorized Signature and dated
Witness by two disinterested witnesses -Each witness must sign the Will in the testator’s presence.  In Indiana, the signing of a Will by an interested witness will not invalidate the Will but the gift left to that witness maybe void unless an additional two disinterested witnesses sign the Will.  The interested person however could receive the gift it does not exceed what they would have received if the person had died without a will or intestate.

Indiana will recognize a Will created in other states as well as long as it was a legally created Will according to the laws of that state.

When is the Right Time to Update Your Will?

Updating your will is important and often forgotten. Any major events such as births, deaths, marriage or divorce, or change in assets or distribution, should prompt a review with your attorney to determine if your goals are still being met. Your will should acknowledge your asset and family.

Wills can also be Amended, call a codicil, which also has is own requirements .

When Should You Create a Will?

It’s never too early to start creating your will. Dying without a will can lead to potential expensive probate issues and conflicts.

It is important to seek legal advice to address exactly what you would like to accomplish. There are many tools and ways to make the process easier for your loved ones when you are gone. Contact Duepner Law today to discuss you needs.

Who can Contest a Will?

First you must have standing to contest a will.  Any person who would be entitled to receive a share of the Testator’s estate, by way of intestacy statutes may have standing to challenge the Testator’s will. They must file a petition to strike within 3 months of the original opening of the estate.   In your petition you must state why the will is invalid.  Reasons such as not signed, notarized or witnessed are common.  If there is a signature, defenses to the signing may include  incapacitated, undue influence by an interested party or beneficiary.   Maybe there is a new Will that was created and/or the current Will has been revoked by the testator.

Note that if a person dies without a Will under Indiana intestacy laws, beneficiaries will not be able to dispute the distribution of the estate.  Even if it is well known how the testator wanted the estate distributed the statute governs and no contest will be allowed without a valid Will.

Where should a Probate Estate be Filed in Indiana?

 Indiana Code 29-1-7-1 states as follows

The venue for the probate of a will and for the administration of an estate shall be, in the county in Indiana where the decedent lived at the time of his death.
If the decedent no longer lives in Indiana but has property located in Indiana, it may be filed in the county where the property is located.

What is the difference between an executor and a personal representative of an estate?

Technically they are the same.  Both terms refer to the person a court appoints to administer an estate.  An Executor is often referred to the person named in a Will to administer the estate where as a personal representative is often the terminology used if there is not a Will.  Ultimately they have very similar responsibilities and these terms can be used interchangeably.

If you are the Personal Representative or the Executor, What do I do with the assets?

You now officially have the responsibility of preparing an inventory of all the descendants assets and submit it to the court.  You must then take possession of the assets, usually for several months, in order for creditors’ claims to be filed and satisfied according to state law. After you have paid the decedent’s debts, claims, and taxes from the probate assets, you can distribute the remaining property to the decedent’s heirs as provided in the will.  You then must prepare a final accounting and submit it to the probate court for approval.

As with many areas of the law, often times multiple confusing terms exist for similar concepts. Probate law in California is no exception. Essentially, the parties involved are the person who handles the administrative affairs of the estate, and those people or entities to whom the assets are distributed. However, depending on the situation, they can be referred to by slightly different terms. Let’s try to clear up some of the confusion.

Beneficiary vs. Heir

Beneficiary

A beneficiary is anyone who is named in the will to receive part of the estate.  It could be anyone such as a family, friends, a company or a church.   The real key distinction is that beneficiaries are specifically named in the will.

Heir

When a person dies and has not created a will, then no beneficiaries have been named.   In this case, the assets would be distributed according to state inheritance laws to your Heirs.  Indiana has its own rules on how your estate will be distributed.  Contact Duepner Law to find out more.