Corydon Probate Attorney
Probate is the process that your estate will go through after you die. A skilled Corydon probate attorney can help make this process as easy as possible for your loved ones. Depending on how well you plan, probate can be either simple or terribly complicated. At its best, probate is a well-ordered, efficient, and relatively easy process that is over within a few months. At its worst, it can be an expensive, drawn-out, frustrating process that causes a lot of stress and confusion for your surviving family members.
During probate, a court determines whether a will is valid and authentic and then administers it. A will in Indiana must be probated, but the process becomes an orderly and effortless distribution of assets to heirs when a well-crafted will exists. Legal paperwork and filings after death are significantly less burdensome with a will than when there is no will at all.
The goal is to avoid probate as much as possible. Only assets solely owned by a deceased individual must go through the probate process. These often include personal items, furniture, cash, and the like. Assets that are jointly owned, placed in a trust, have named beneficiaries, have transfer-on-death status, or are in payable-on-death accounts can avoid the probate process altogether and go directly to heirs. With good planning in advance, you can ensure that many, if not most, of your assets do not have to get bogged down in probate.
The first thing you can do to ensure that the probate process is smooth is to take the time yourself, or encourage your loved one, to create a last will and testament as part of a larger estate plan. Without a will, a person is said to have died “intestate.” When this happens, Indiana Probate Code and a probate judge will determine how your assets are distributed, which may or may not reflect your personal wishes. So, first things first – create a will.
In addition, you may want to create a revokable or irrevocable trust; confirm that pensions, IRAs, bank accounts, and other financial accounts have named beneficiaries and/or payable-on-death status; and ensure that all retirement and life insurance policies have named beneficiaries. By doing this, these assets can be shielded from going through probate.
Corydon, IN, probate attorney explains the definition of “small estates.”
There are several states in the country, including Indiana, that have a special, simplified process for what are considered “small estates.” An Indiana small estate is one that has a value of $50,000 or less after debts, liens, encumbrances, and funeral and burial expenses are deducted. Joint assets (co-owned with a spouse or another person) and beneficiary designations are not included in the $50,000 estate maximum required to qualify for the “small estate” designation. Joint assets can include things such as a house co-owned by a married couple, jointly owned property, shared bank accounts, and other co-owned items. If an estate’s assets are below the $50,000 level, you can take advantage of an abbreviated, simplified probate process that takes less time and costs significantly less money. To find out if you qualify for the “small estate” process, contact our Corydon probate attorney today.
Documents in an Estate Plan
A Corydon probate lawyer can draft these documents for you and your family.
There are many documents that make up a comprehensive estate plan, and these can help you avoid a lengthy probate experience. Which documents you may need depends on the size of your family, amount of assets, and other issues unique to your situation. Documents can include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Revokable Living Trust
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Advance Healthcare Directive
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Beneficiary Designations
- Specialty Trusts (pets, special needs relative, digital assets, etc.)
- Letter of Intent
- Proof of Identity Documents
- Guardianship Designation for Minors
- Named Executor of Estate
- Titles and Property Deeds
- Insurance Policies
- Financial Accounts Info
- Digital Log-Ins and Passwords
- Funeral Instructions.
You may have some of these documents already. Others may need to be drafted by a Corydon probate lawyer. It’s important to keep all documents in a centralized and safe location and let your spouse or trusted advisor know where they are kept.
What Kind of Legacy Do You Want to Leave?
Part of the estate planning and probate process also includes determining whether you want to leave financial assets to a charity, university, museum, animal shelter, or other entity. This can sometimes create tax advantages for yourself and your heirs, and it can also help you leave a lasting legacy in the community and beyond. A Corydon probate attorney can help you explore these options.
Questions Corydon Probate Lawyers May Ask You
There are several questions to keep in mind — some of which Corydon probate lawyers may ask you when you meet — that can help you resolve probate issues in advance or create an estate plan. Some of these include:
- Who are your beneficiaries and heirs?
- Do you have minor children? Have you thought about who could be their guardians?
- Do you have life insurance policies?
- Do you have brokerage and bank accounts?
- Do you own real estate or vacation properties?
- Do you have pensions, 401(k)s, education trusts, IRAs, or other retirement assets?
- Do you know where all your important financial documents are?
- Have you identified the person who will serve as your power of attorney?
- Do you have a living will or advance healthcare directive?
- Have you designated a healthcare power of attorney?
- Do you have plans for the future care and maintenance of your pets?
- Do you have expensive collectible assets like artwork, vintage cars, jewelry, or coin collections?
- Do you own guns or firearms you want to pass on to heirs?
- Have you made funeral and burial plans, including a pre-paid funeral?
These are just a few of the many questions you will want to explore as you look at ways to efficiently and cost-effectively pass on assets to beneficiaries and plan for your family’s well-being after you’re gone.
Estate Planning Checklist
As a way to get a jump start on probate, here’s an estate planning checklist that will help keep your estate organized. Start with a to-do list:
- Itemize your asset inventory.
- Create a list of debts.
- Make a list of professional and social memberships.
- Review retirement accounts and update your insurance.
- Assign transfer-on-death designations.
- Choose a person to be your estate administrator.
- Simplify your finances when appropriate.
Creating and maintaining lists can be a great way to stay on top of end-of-life issues and avoid a lengthy and difficult probate process.
Choosing the Best Corydon Probate Lawyer
There’s a lot to know about probate, estate planning, and elder law issues. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right Corydon probate lawyer to handle your estate planning needs. Planning ahead is a beautiful gift you can give to surviving family members. After you’re gone, they will be able to enjoy the precious memories of a life well lived rather than be anxious and frustrated by a disorganized estate. It’s understandable that people don’t like to think about end-of-life issues, but it’s wise to do so. Planning gives you the opportunity, while you’re still healthy, to have a conversation with your spouse and heirs, explain your desires and reasoning, and answer their questions. This can help avoid confusion and hurt feelings after you pass away.
Not all Corydon probate attorneys are created equal. Some simply have more experience, training, insight, and skill than others. Our estate and elder law attorneys at Church Langdon Lopp Banet have decades of experience and intimately know Indiana probate law. Take a moment to read their attorney bios to find out why they’re so outstanding. You can also read testimonials from satisfied clients who speak to the quality of the legal services we provide. We invite you to meet with a Corydon probate lawyer at our office and find out how we can help – whether you have a simple probate matter to resolve or want to create an entire estate planning portfolio.
Contact Our Skilled Probate Attorneys in Corydon, IN, Today
If you are living in Corydon and have questions about probate or want help drafting a will or an entire estate plan, the probate attorneys at Church Langdon Lopp Banet would be happy to meet with you. We enjoy getting to know our clients and finding out about their unique family needs. Whether you have many children and grandchildren or are just starting out in life, a Corydon probate attorney can help you plan for the future. On the other hand, if a loved one has died intestate and you’re knee deep in Indiana’s confusing probate process, we can help with that, too. Whatever your legal needs, we are here to serve. You don’t have to go through the probate process alone. To make an appointment, call us at 812-725-8224.
Attorney Steve Langdon
Licensed to practice in both Indiana and Kentucky, Steve Langdon is an experienced elder law and trial attorney. In addition to his litigation and trial work, Steve’s practice includes wills, trusts, probate, Medicaid planning, guardianship, powers of attorney, and advanced directive planning, including living wills and health care surrogate designations. [ Attorney Bio ]
Attorney Gary Banet
Gary is licensed to practice law in both Indiana and Kentucky. He concentrates his practice in estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships, elder law and special-needs planning. Gary earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, and formerly practiced law at Bingham Greenebaum Doll and Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs. [ Attorney Bio ]