|Vince Taylor's Law Office||
I am sure you have heard that you can purchase form wills online from a number of different companies. These are inexpensive and may work for you. However, from my experience most people have a number of questions about wills and estates that can be personally and individually addressed when speaking with an attorney.
Should you have a will? If you have few assets and could care less what happens to them when you die then probably not. Otherwise you should. Many people are surprised to find out that if you don't have a will and are married with children that all of your property does not go to your spouse when you pass. There are laws governing how your property is distributed when you die, and contrary to popular belief these laws do try to protect your property and make sure it goes to family members. However, one of its quirks is that part of your property goes directly to your children in the situation mentioned above.
I am not a big fan of what are popularly called living trusts. These devices are advertised as allowing you to avoid the expense and complications of probate. My experience has been that they end up being more expensive and complicated than probate. Indiana's estate laws are as good as any in the country in allowing you to process an estate expediently and economically. Trusts can be helpful when they are included as provisions in a will such as when property is given to a minor but managed by a trustee named in the will until the child reaches a certain age. They can also be included in the will to split assets to diminish federal estate taxes but are not necessary in most cases because the current federal estate tax laws apply only to very wealthy individuals and families. That law will be addressed by Congress one way or the other in 2013 so stay tuned.
Wills are inexpensive. I currently charge $200.00 for a single will. The entire process takes an hour or two. When doing a will you also might want to do a living will which expresses your desires as to how to be cared for or not when on your deathbed. There is also a companion document authorizing someone else to make these decisions for you. We prepare these documents when preparing wills at no additional cost.
Many things that you own may not be covered in a will, such as life insurance policies and investment accounts that name a beneficiary of those funds, such that it is a good idea to stay up to date on where that property goes. Also, if real estate is jointly owned and the deed provides that it will go to the survivor then it too will pass outside of your will.
To most people death is not a fun thing to think about. However, most if not all of my clients have felt better once they have completed the process. If you have questions about wills or probate please feel free to give us a call.