- March 3, 2016
- CLLB Law
- Estate & Elder Law
Everyone dies, but not everyone makes a will. While it’s understandable that some people are uncomfortable discussing their mortality, their reluctance to plan for it can force their families to fight through the courts in order to determine where their assets will go and how their debts will be paid. Unfortunately, not having a will is extremely common. According to a 2014 survey, more than 60 percent of Americans do not have one. And the No. 1 reason why not? “Just haven’t gotten around to making one.”
Who should have a will? Just about everyone. Whether your estate is small and simple or large and complicated, planning ahead gives you some control over what happens to your belongings while also saving your loved ones time, money, and anguish after you’re gone. A will is a written set of instructions for the distribution of your estate upon your death. If you die without a valid will, the state applies its rules of intestate succession to determine what should happen to your property. Loved ones who were promised certain belongings may get nothing, while those you wanted to disinherit may be given significant assets.
Intestacy laws vary from state to state. In Indiana, the children of a person who is not married inherit the entire estate in equal shares. Adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children. Stepchildren and foster children receive nothing if they were never legally adopted. If you are married and have children with that person, your spouse gets one-half of your estate and your children get the other half. If you have more than one child, the half they receive is divided equally among them. If you have a child from a prior marriage, the rules get complicated – your current spouse receives half of your personal property and one-quarter of the fair market value of any real estate, while the other half of your personal property and the title of any real estate are awarded to all your children.
If you are married, childless, and your parents are living, your spouse gets three-quarters of your property and your parents get one-quarter. If you are unmarried and have no children, your parents each get one-quarter and your siblings get the remainder. Occasionally, it happens that a person does not have even distantly related family. In those cases, the property is distributed to the state.
If you do not want Indiana’s laws of intestate succession to determine how your property is divided, you should execute a will. To make sure that the will accurately reflects your wishes and is validly drafted, it’s important to have a lawyer’s advice. If you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the Indiana estate planning attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentuckiana; including, Floyd, Clark and Harrison County, Indiana and Louisville Metro/Jefferson County, Kentucky. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or by using our online form.