Wills & Trusts

Understanding Wills

So many people have heard they need a will, but few know why or what that even means.

In general, the “need a will” statement refers to a Last Will, which sometimes includes “and Testament” in the title.  In reality, many people in Indiana do not need a Last Will.

A Last Will is your instructions and wishes to a Probate Court as to who you want you oversee the management of your estate and who you want to receive the assets that make up your estate.

In Indiana, unless you have more than $50,000 in your name after your death, you will not need the Probate Court to settle your estate. Your Last Will can still give some direction as to how things are distributed if a Small Estate Affidavit is used. However, many times, things are owned in such a way that they are automatically transferred to another person when you die. There is no additional planning to be done by you.

In Indiana, many married couples own property jointly.  This could be your home, bank accounts, vehicles, and other personal property.  Other items such as life insurance, retirement accounts, and investments should have beneficiaries named.  In both of these instances, the property “moves” to another person upon your death. Because of this, there is not property to count in your name towards the $50,000 threshold.

That is not saying you should not have a plan for your property. It is possible that a direct beneficiary distribution may not be the best plan to protect the property or the person receiving it. It is important to understand the ramifications of different types of ownership or beneficiary transfers.

Contact CCSK today at (219) 200-3902 for a consultation. We can help you navigate your options and create the legal structure best suited for you, your assets, and your family.

Understanding Trusts

Many people believe that they need a Will, but we find that few people understand the importance of also having a Trust. Both are important tools in Estate Planning for Indiana residents.

A “Trust” more often than not is a Revocable Living Trust (RLT). An RLT allows certain property or assets to be moved from an individual’s name into a separate entity (the Trust), but still allows the individual to remain in control of the use, value, and income produced by the property. It is beneficial in estate planning because it avoids Probate and gives a person the opportunity to control what happens to the property after his or her death.

The person creating the Trust is often referred to as a Grantor. The Trust give the Grantor the opportunity to fully benefit from the property during the Grantor’s lifetime, then upon death, avoid Probate and distribute to his or her chosen beneficiaries. The power of a Trust lies in the amount of control the Grantor retains in how the property is distributed to the named beneficiary. Trusts allow an estate to be settled without court intervention and out of the public eye, unlike Probate.

A Grantor may:

  • spread a distribution over time
  • allow use for a time under certain circumstances, then distributed to other parties
  • allow a successor Trustee to look at a beneficiary’s situation and control the distribution to protect the interest in the property or protect a beneficiary

Is a Trust right for you? The best way to know is to talk about who you want to provide for and how you want your property distributed to meet that goal. Trust documents are usually prepared for our Indiana clients in conjunction with basic estate planning documents, and must be carefully tailored to meet each client’s individual needs. Contact CCSK today to talk start the conversation about which estate planning tools are right for you and your family.

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