Our Estate Planning Practice
When the term estate planning is used, most people think about wills and trusts and how assets are divided after death. While these are certainly critical aspects of estate planning, comprehensive estate planning also considers matters that may affect an estate prior to the owner’s death.
Advance Directives, Powers of Attorney, Designations of Health Care Representatives
Advance directives become effective if a person is injured or experiences a catastrophic medical event and can no longer communicate their wishes regarding their care or social needs. Through advance directives, a person can designate one or more people to act on their behalf through powers of attorney. Powers of attorney can be used to designate those entitled to make healthcare decisions, social decisions (such as what facility will be used to care for the person), financial decisions (such as the power to sell and buy assets) and for almost any other need.
Living wills provide advice to medical personnel regarding the type and level of treatment desired if a person cannot communicate their wishes, and death is imminent, or if they are suffering from a terminal illness.
In Indiana, as in all other states, a will specifies the distribution of property owned by a decedent. If there is no will, then state intestate law dictates asset distribution, even if the required distribution is against the decedent’s express wishes.
Assets held in a trust are not considered to be owned by a person (so they are not distributed by a will). As a result, trust assets continue to be managed, and distributed, in accordance with the terms of the trust after the death of the trustor (the person making the trust). Trusts may be beneficial to some people, such as those who may die while having minor children or those who have high value estates. In other cases, particularly situations involving modest estates and no minor children, a will by itself may be sufficient.
Your Estate Plan
Our objective is to help clients fully protect their interests during life with respect to their care and the management of their estate if they become incapacitated, and to have an inclusive plan in place for distributing assets after death in a cost-effective and efficient manner. This includes preserving assets for the family of those persons who may eventually need nursing home care and Medicaid assistance in paying for that care.