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Beneficiary Designations And Probate Avoidance

Posted on February 11, 2015 at 8:50 PM

Creating and fully funding a living trust during a person’s lifetime is one way to avoid “probate” (see the “Glossary” tab at the top of this page). As they say in the Geico commercial----“everybody knows that.” But did you know that there are other methods of avoiding probate? Non probate property includes property that passes by beneficiary designations other than those in a will, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, investment accounts, ...

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A Few Good Reasons For Using Trusts

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Trusts have been an important tool in estate planners' toolbox for a long time.  And they have gotten the attention of the general public in recent decades for their ability to avoid probate (although creating a trust is not the only way to avoid probate, and avoiding "probate" in Indiana is not the big deal it might be in other states due to the availability in Indiana of unsupervised administration).  So, sure---trusts can avoid probate, but there are many other good reasons to co...

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Planning For Nursing Home Or In-Home Care Costs

Posted on June 1, 2014 at 9:35 PM

There are a number of methods of providing for in-home care or nursing home care for persons who cannot be properly cared for in their homes, including:

  • Payment by you or your family members from personal income or assets;
  • Medicaid assistance for people with low income and limited assets;
  • VA nursing home care for honorably discharged veterans;
  • Accelerated benefits from your life insurance policy or loans against cash value of policies;
  • Income o...
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Minimizing Delays In Distributing Assets Following Death

Posted on May 22, 2014 at 12:55 AM

Most people put minimizing delays in distributing assets following death as a fairly high priority goal. The question is: what are some practical and cost effective ways of achieving that goal? Titling accounts and other property in joint ownership with right of survivorship is a well known and effective method of passing property upon death. Another well publicized method is the creation of a revocable living trust—provided that most or all of ...

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Indiana Inheritance Tax Repealed

Posted on May 21, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Indiana’s inheritance tax was repealed for individuals dying after Dec. 31, 2012. No inheritance tax returns (Form IH-6 for Indiana residents and Form IH-12 for nonresidents) have to be prepared or filed. No tax has to be paid. In addition, no Consents to Transfer (Form IH-14) personal property or Notice of Intended Transfer of Checking Account (Form IH-19) are required for those dying after Dec. 31, 2012.

Effect Of Divorce On Rights Of Divorced Spouse Upon Death Of Former Spouse

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 12:40 AM

Under Indiana law, divorce (or annulment of a marriage) has the effect of revoking all provisions in a will in favor of the divorced spouse.  Divorce or annulment has the same effect for dispositions of property under a revocable living trust in favor of the divorced spouse, by treating the divorced spouse as having died before the spouse who created the revocable trust.  However, a mere legal separation does not affect the rights of a spouse under a will or a trust....

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Personal Care Contracts And Medicaid

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 12:25 AM

Many children provide full or part-time care for their elderly parents—sometimes for years—so that the parents can remain in their home as long as possible. But at some point a child or other caregiver may no longer be able to provide the level of care that is needed, and nursing home care may become necessary. The average cost of nursing home care in Indiana in 2014 is $5,500.00 per month. How will a parent pay for nursing home care? Medicare does ...

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Joint Accounts: Pros, Cons, And Alternatives

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Many people add a child as a co-owner on bank and brokerage accounts. It is a convenient way of managing accounts, paying bills, and passing accounts to the co-owner on death outside of an estate. However, there are risks and drawbacks to joint ownership. First, a joint owner has the right to write checks and to make withdrawals. In most cases this will not be a major problem, since the person who added the co-owner probably trusts the co-owner not to make unauthorized withdrawa...

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Are Living Trusts The Right Tool For Everyone?

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 12:45 AM
A great deal of interest has been focused in recent years on revocable living trusts as the solution to all estate planning goals. Numerous books (including do-it-yourself form books) geared to the general public have been written on living trusts–especially in relation to avoiding probate. Ads in newspapers and magazines seek to attract potential clients to free seminars about living trusts that are put on by atto...
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Wall Street Journal Advises Four Documents Everyone Should Have

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 10:15 AM

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on Four Estate Planning Documents Everyone Should Have.  What are they?  A will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney (called an "Appointment of Health Care Representative" in Indiana), and a living will.  Read the entire article here:

Is Creating A Living Trust The Only Way To Avoid Probate?

Posted on April 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM

As discussed in an earlier post (“What Is Probate”, April 13, 2014), a will has to be “probated” in order to have legal force and effect.  But  that aspect of “probate” is not onerous or costly.  It is “probate” in the second meaning of that term–i.e, court supervision of the administration of an estate–that most people want to avoid.  Besides creating a living trust to avoid “probate” (a ...

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What Is A Power Of Attorney?

Posted on April 22, 2014 at 3:25 PM

A power of attorney is a document in which one person (the “principal”) appoints an agent to act on the principal’s behalf.  The agent appointed in the power of attorney is called the “attorney-in-fact”, although many persons refer to the person who is appointed as the “power of attorney”.   In the absence of a power of attorney executed while a person is competent, it may be necessary to petition the court to appoint a guardian ...

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Protecting Medicaid Eligibility For A Disabled Relative By Creating A Special Needs Trust

Posted on April 19, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Spouses or parents typically create estate plans that leave property to the surviving spouse or a surviving child with no strings attached.  That is reasonable and works fine in most cases.  However, doing so when a spouse or child is disabled or in a nursing home, or when it is probable that a spouse or child will require nursing home care, could render the spouse or child ineligible for Medicaid assistance to cover the substantial cost of nursing home ca...

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Making Gifts Or Bequests To Minors Via Indiana's Uniform Transfers To Minors Act

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 9:30 AM

A person can make a lifetime gift of property to a minor, or make a bequest to a minor under a will or trust upon death, by means of a custodial account under Indiana’s Uniform Transfers To Minors Act (“UTMA”).  A custodial account is similar to a trust. Both place property under the control of a person who does not own the account (a “custodian”, in the case of a custodial account, and a “trustee”, in the case of a trust), who manage...

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What Is Non Probate Property?

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 8:35 AM

“Probate property” is any type of property that is in the sole name of an individual and which, upon the death of the individual, will pass under a will or under the law of intestate succession if the individual dies without a will.  Conversely, “non probate property” is property which will not pass under a will or under the law of intestate succession.  Non probate property (with a few exceptions) is not subject to “probate” (administ...

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