Do I need a will?
A will is a written document expressing an individual’s desire for controlling the transfer of their property after death. A will is recommended for several reasons. Besides providing for distribution of your property, a will allows for the following:
- Choice of a personal representative to administer your estate.
- Choice of a guardian for a minor in case of the death or disability of both parents.
- Trust provisions to manage and provide income for survivors, typically minors.
- Charitable provisions.
What happens if I die without a will?
If an individual dies without executing a will, the Indiana Intestacy statute is controlling. This statute provides surviving spouses, children, parents, and other family members with specific shares of your estate. Consult with a lawyer for further explanation.
What is a personal representative?
A personal representative makes sure the wishes expressed in a will are properly carried out. Due to the nature of the duties listed below, the assistance of an attorney for a personal representative is generally required. The duties of a personal representative include the following:
- Have the will probated with the court.
- Marshal (gather together) the assets of the estate.
- Establish the value of all assets as of the date of death and file an inventory with the court.
- Handle claims against the estate.
- File income tax returns for periods before and after death.
- Prepare a final accounting covering the principal, income, and disbursements of the estate.
- Distribute assets of the estate, including specific bequests.
What is a “living will”?
A living will, also known as advance directives, is a written document providing instructions for an individual’s care in the event of a terminal illness or “persistent vegetative state”. It allows adults (ages 18 and over) to execute written instructions regarding whether to withhold or maintain life-prolonging procedures such as artificial nutrition or hydration. A copy of the living will is provided to the individual’s primary physician and with a health care representative or family member who was given authority to make health care decisions.
How often do I need to update my will?
Once properly executed, a will does not expire. However, it is recommended that wills be updated after life-changing events such as marriage, divorce, having a child, or adoption.