Grief and shock accompany the passing of a loved one.  The pain of loss can overwhelm and be long lasting.  It compounds when someone passes without an estate plan.  While family should be grieving and supporting one another, they are confronted by questions that they may not have answers to.  What were their final wishes concerning burial or cremation?  How will a spouse or child be supported or cared for?  What assets did they leave behind?  Where are they?  How will the bills get paid?  Is there a mortgage or property taxes?  What needs to be done?  Who has the authority to do it?

Spouses often divide household activities.  If only one spouse knows about bills, accounts, and investments, the surviving spouse can be at an extreme disadvantage if the account managing spouse passes or becomes ill.  Sharing this information and making a plan while they are possible to do so can spare heartbreak later.  When this does not happen, confusion often results.

This confusion leads some people to not act at all.  Bills remain unpaid, taxes accumulate, and opportunities to improve the situation pass by.  Eventually, something breaks, and then emergency action is needed to avoid a tragedy like losing a home to a foreclosure action.  This confusion can also lead some people to take improper action.  Attempting to distribute property right after someone dies often leads to mistakes and family disputes.

We can work to avoid these crises with a comprehensive estate plan. We can give loved ones a clear path to follow when the time comes.

If you are in need of legal advice regarding planning, long-term care, or Medicaid, please contact us at (219)-230-3600 or via email at  If you would like to schedule an appointment, please click the button below.

About the author

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Christopher Ripley is a Valparaiso native and a lifelong Indiana resident. He is the oldest of five children. After graduating from Valparaiso High School, Chris attended Purdue University where he received his B.S. in Mathematics. He then attended law school at Indiana University in Bloomington where he received his Juris Doctorate. Chris has practiced law since 2013 and has served clients across the State of Indiana from Porter County to Evansville in a variety of legal matters. Chris is licensed to practice law in Indiana and Illinois.

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