Most of us would rather not think about our own death. If we’re young and healthy, we expect that our death will be years or decades from now, and that we’ll have plenty of time to make the appropriate arrangements as that time draws near. Unfortunately, we all know the truth that death may happen at any time.
Under Indiana law, if a person dies without a will (which is referred to as dying “intestate”), there are prescribed rules that govern exactly how the person’s estate will be divided. In many instances, the results of the division of property under these rules are not what the deceased would have wanted.
Creating an estate plan and/or will allows each individual to ensure that his or her estate is distributed as nearly as possible to his or her wishes. Thus if a person wishes for a friend or relative to have a specific item, or if a gift is to be made to a favorite charity, all of these matters can be provided for in the estate plan or will. Because specific items and gifts can be set forth in the estate plan or will, even those with modest estates can benefit from having an estate plan or will to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled.
For those with larger estates, estate planning also offers the ability to minimize the tax burden associated with an estate, so that more of the estate can be transferred to beneficiaries and less to the government. It also provides a way of holding assets in trust for the benefit of minors (such as grandchildren) so that they can be provided for while they are young, but also so that they cannot have access to certain assets until a specified age.
Estate plans can also have another significant benefit – avoiding conflict and in-fighting that can arise if there is no specified division of assets. After a death, conflicts can arise around items that have sentimental value, such as jewelry, family bibles and antiques, and items that may have been passed down from generation to generation. A clear estate plan and/or will can thus be used to specify how important and sentimental assets are to be divided, and thus spare the survivors from having to make these determinations.
Call me at 317-639-3315 so that we can plan your discuss your estate planning needs.