Although an estate plan is customized to fit each individual’s circumstances, a few questions are common to almost every plan and important to consider with an estate planning attorney.
Should I avoid probate? Generally, the probate process involves administering a decedent’s assets. This can include collecting assets, paying final expenses and claims, and making distributions as provided by a will or statute. Indiana law provides for two types of probate proceedings: supervised and unsupervised. The supervised process requires involvement of the Court and filings not required in the unsupervised process. The unsupervised process requires little court involvement and allows the representative to administer the estate with minimal court supervision. Probate can be avoided through an estate plan that involves a trust. In determining whether to use a trust to avoid probate, common concerns include privacy, the cost of administration and the time required for administration.
What taxes will my estate or children have to pay when I die? The federal estate exemption for an individual who dies in 2018 is approximately $11,200,000. A married couple may utilize both spouses’ exemptions. In addition, Indiana legislature repealed the inheritance tax in 2013. As a result, the vast majority of individuals need not be concerned about “death taxes.”
Who will handle my estate when I die? In Indiana, a personal representative is appointed by the probate court in which your estate is administered. You can specify in your will the individual(s) or entity you wish to serve as your representative.
How is money passed to children? With a custodial account, a custodian is appointed to oversee the distribution of account assets until the child is 18 or 21. Alternately, you can create a trust to hold the assets. A trust provides more flexibility than a custodial account, allowing you to provide a trustee with directions as to the distribution and use of the assets in the trust.