What is a will?

A will is a document that you put together which allows you to designate how you want your assets to be distributed at the time you pass away. Within that will, you not only determine who are receiving your assets at the time you pass away but also who you want in charge of that distribution, and that individual is typically known as an executor or a personal representative. It’s that individual’s responsibility to collect the assets at the time you pass away and make distribution of those asset to the people you want to inherit them.

What is a trust?

A trust is an estate planning tool which is very similar to a will. It’s a document you put together designating who you want to receive your assets at the time that you pass away. Also putting someone in charge of making that distribution. Under a trust that person’s name is a trustee. Unlike a will though, a revocable trust is actually put together while you’re alive and funded while you’re alive meaning we change title on your assets from your name to the trust’s name. As a result, at the time that you pass away the named trustee steps in and can begin making distribution right away to your beneficiaries which is different from a will. Wills have to be filed in court at the time you pass away so that the executor’s authority to collect assets can actually be activated with a court order. A trust avoids the need to go through court by placing assets in the name of the trust now and allowing for easy distribution at the time you pass away.

Why is it important to plan for same sex partners and domestic partners?

We have had a tremendous amount of change in regard to estate planning for same-sex couples with the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

However, many individuals are not married, and remain in committed relationships with their domestic partners, or just in a couple relationship, without any legal status.

As a result, they need to specifically plan any estate planning documents to be allowed to be decision makers for one another. A same-sex partner who is not married to an individual would not have any legal authority to handle finances or make medical decision for an individual, and would not naturally inherit from that individual if it’s not properly planned for n legal documents.

In order to properly benefit one another, it’s important for same-sex or domestic partners to properly account for one another in legal documents so that their relationship and inheritance rights are properly defined.

What is an advance directive?

Advance directive are documents which instruct an individual’s family, their friends, their health care providers as to the treatment the individual would want to receive if they have a terminal illness or are otherwise unable to consent to medical decisions themselves. Advance directives include things like an appointment of health care representative, a living will, a POST form, a do not resuscitate form. Things like that.

What are typical provisions for a child in a will?

So a testamentary trust or an account similar to that is commonly used when we have a minor beneficiary.

Under Indiana law, if a child inherits $10,000 outright, before they turn 18, that money is held for them in a restricted guardianship account with the county in which they live. Then they receive access to that money outright upon turning 18.

That is not always what our clients want to happen. So a testamentary trust is a great way to ensure that our client’s wishes are being met. By placing their money into a testamentary trust, our clients are able to select a trustee to manage those trust funds. They are able to select the age which the minor has access to the funds. They are also allowed to indicate what they would like the funds to be spent for while the money is still held in trust, so they can provide for the Health, Education, Maintenance, and Support of the child.

You can also provide for extraordinary expenses, such as graduate school, maybe giving them money for a wedding, or to put down as a down payment on a home, or to start a business. A testamentary trust is a great common method if one of our clients has minor beneficiaries.

Who can serve as my health care agent?

Anyone you appoint can serve as your health care agent as long as they are at least 18 years old, they are not already deceased, they haven’t resigned, they been adjudicated incapacitated by a court, and the Dr. can locate them. So as long as these 5 criteria are met, anybody you appoint can serve as your health care representative.

Estate Planning Forms