With an office conveniently located near Westfield, in Carmel, Indiana, easily accessible from Hwy 31 via Carmel Drive, as well as Keystone Avenue, Halcomb Singler proudly provides effective legal advice and estate planning services to our Westfield neighbors. We can help with any need from simple wills and power of attorney documents and planning to avoid probate through a revocable living trust or other means, all the way up to sophisticated trusts, business succession and asset protection planning.
If you live in Westfield, and have not executed an estate plan or even a simple will, if it has been some time since you have done your planning, or if you have recently moved to Westfeld from another state and would like to review and update your plan, please contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.
While we understand that most people do not look forward to planning for their own passing or thinking about what might happen if they were in a terrible car accident and not able to make their own decisions; it is very important to think about these things before they happen. While we hope that none of our clients ever need a guardianship or need to use their powers of attorneys due to an illness or accident, the fact remains that none of us are going to live forever.
A will, and a trust, if necessary, are legal documents that allow you to determine how such assets as your home, vehicle(s), and other assets will be distributed at the time you pass away. For example, if you have a special heirloom or article of jewelry that you would like to leave to your daughter, that can be included in a will or trust so that you are assured she will receive it after your passing. In addition, those with minor children are able to name who they would prefer to be the guardian of their children in the event of their (and their spouse’s) passing as well as set up a testamentary trust within their will to be funded with life insurance proceeds for the benefit of their minor children. Depending on your situation and the amount of assets that you have, a trust may also be a helpful estate planning tool. Not everyone needs a trust. However, a trust can be an exceptionally useful estate planning tool for avoidance of probate, post-mortem control of assets, and ease of administration, among other benefits.
Probate is the legal process of petitioning a Court to open an estate case. If the loved one passed away in while living in Westfield, the proper court would be in Hamilton County, Indiana. Once the estate is opened via the filing of a Petition with the appropriate county probate Court, the Judge can appoint a personal representative of the estate who is charged with marshaling the assets and notifying the creditors. The personal representative is responsible for the creation of an estate inventory. Once the estate is administered and all assets are passed out to creditors and all allowed claims are paid, then the personal representative can petition the Court to close the estate. Because of the statutory claims periods and the necessary administrative tasks that come with probate, it could easily be longer than 9 months from the date of your passing before your loved ones receive funds due to them under your estate. In addition, personal representatives typically hire an attorney to assist them in filing the necessary documents with the Court and advising them through the probate process. These fees are normally at least a few thousand dollars and can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. In especially large and complex estates the attorneys fees can be even higher.
As a result, some people wish to use a trust to avoid probate. If you form a trust and your trust owns your home, vehicles, and other significant assets it is often possible to avoid having to open a probate estate altogether. Instead of probating an estate there would be a trust administration, which is a much faster and less expensive way for your loved ones to receive the assets you intended. A trust document is more time consuming, and therefore more expensive for an attorney to prepare, so they are not necessary for every person or family.
At Halcomb Singler we also recommend that all of our Westfield clients that come to us to discuss a will or trust also take that opportunity to have powers of attorney and a living will prepared if they have not already done so. Powers of attorney allow you to determine what person you would like to have the legal authority to make decisions regarding your health care and finances in the event that you are not able to do so while still alive. A living will allows you to direct whether you would like to continue to receive artificial nutrition and/or hydration in the event that you are in a long-term vegetative state and/or a coma. This document also allows you to determine whether or not you would like to remain on life support, which can bring a lot of peace to a family member attempting to make this decision.
Our estate planning services are generally billed as a flat fee, for which we can typically provide a quote at our first consultation. We can review your assets, family circumstances, and previously executed documents if any exist, and can give you an legal opinion about whether any action should be taken, and if so, how you should proceed. We can help you navigate the often confusing world of wills, trusts, and estate planning, and can do it right here close to your home in beautiful Westfield, Indiana. Call us now at (317) 575-8222 for an appointment.
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