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ESTATE PLANNING: Planning for a pet

In last week's column I wrote about the importance of including your pet in your estate plan. Well, maybe importance is a bit or an overstatement. But it is important to consider what will happen to your furry, feathery or scaly friend should something happen to you.

April 12, 2014 3:58 pm

CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Death of a flamingo

 While surfing the web I found an article about a flamingo that recently passed away.

April 05, 2014 9:38 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Understand how disclaimers work before using them

Q: My parents don't have wills. If I understand it correctly, that means that my brother and I will get half of the estate if one of them dies. If we don't want half of the estate, can't we refuse it and let it go to the surviving parent?

March 22, 2014 3:59 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Revoking a will

Q: I have an old will that I forgot all about. How do I revoke it?

March 15, 2014 12:34 pm


Q: What is a Lady Bird Deed? Can it be used to transfer ownership of our second home in Michigan to our family outside of probate?

March 08, 2014 9:56 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Joint ownership isn't always the solution

Q: I know you have said you don't like adding children as joint owners on bank accounts, but I can't remember why. It seems like adding a child on the account would be a good thing. Why don't you like it?

March 01, 2014 4:47 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: A loss isn't just financial

This past week marked the 28th anniversary of my mother's death. I attempted to make the traditional visit to her grave, but 3 feet of snow made it impossible to locate.

February 22, 2014 7:26 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: My dad passed away and we don't know what to do with the car. Can we sell it on our own or do we need to open an estate?

February 15, 2014 11:30 am

Catching up on readers' questions

Q: My will creates a trust for my children. Can I name the trust in the will beneficiary of my accounts and life insurance?

January 25, 2014 12:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Mom didn't fund the trust

Q: My mother has a revocable trust and I am now the trustee. It looks like the house is in the trust but nothing else. Shouldn't she have put everything into the trust? How do I get the assets into the name of the trust now?

January 18, 2014 12:03 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Television estate planning vs. the real world

I don't know about you, but I'm a huge "Downton Abbey fan."

January 11, 2014 2:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Ways to handle an advancement on an inheritance

Q: I am considering giving money to one of my children. How do I account for the money in the will? What happens if he pays me back before then?

January 04, 2014 11:03 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: How much can I gift this year? Does the amount go up in 2014?

December 28, 2013 9:48 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Who plans the funeral?

Q: What happens if a family can't agree about funeral arrangements for a parent? Who gets final say?

December 07, 2013 3:35 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: You said in a previous column most personal property owned by a married couple is jointly owned. How do you know for sure?

November 23, 2013 4:20 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Estate planning is more than wills, trusts

I've been following a tragic story involving a hunter in our home state. The hunter apparently fell out of his tree stand and severely hurt is back. While in the hospital, the family was told that the man would be paralyzed from the shoulders down and would likely never breath on his own aga…

November 16, 2013 11:13 am

ESTATE PLANNING: He's 50. I guess this is who he is going to be.

As an attorney, I'm required to attend a certain number of continuing legal education seminars each year to stay in good standing with state bar. This year I attended the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Two days of Wills and Thrills.

November 09, 2013 3:27 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Spouses need to plan too

Q: My husband and I have been married more than 30 years but most of our property is in his name alone. I've tried to get him to add my name to the property or draw up a will, but he says it isn't necessary. He says I will get everything anyway, but I don't think that's true.

November 02, 2013 10:49 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Including a loved one in a jointly owned estate

Q: My husband and I own all of our assets jointly. How do I leave something to my family if I die before him?

October 26, 2013 3:00 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Don't expose shielded asset to creditors

Q: Since life insurance proceeds payable to an estate are no longer subject to inheritance tax, is it OK if a person doesn't name a beneficiary on a policy so it goes to the estate?

October 12, 2013 3:21 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: 'What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married'

"What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married".

October 05, 2013 2:43 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: End of life decisions merit serious thought

Pull the plug. It's one those phrases that has made it into daily lexicon. Sometimes it's the punch line in a sitcom. Other times it's phrased as a question asked during an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. Sometimes it's a statement made to an attorney who is trying to help a client…

September 28, 2013 3:56 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Know what you are doing

A while ago, I received an email from a reader who needed help with a trust administration. It appeared at the time that a trustee may not have doing what they were supposed to do.

September 21, 2013 3:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Personal property after a spouse dies

Q: What happens to the personal property when a spouse dies. Do the kids have any rights to it? Does the will control where it goes?

September 07, 2013 12:52 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Pour over wills direct estate assets into trust

Q: My parents and I met with an attorney to discuss creating a trust. The attorney said even if they had a trust, they would still need wills. He tried to explain why the wills would need to be probated. If they have a trust why do they need wills? I thought the trust would eliminate probate.

August 31, 2013 12:48 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: The proper way to amend a will

Q: My mother has made changes to her will by writing on it and crossing things out. I told her that this will cause problems, but she refuses to pay an attorney to do it right. Will writing on the will invalidate it?

August 24, 2013 3:33 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Effects of inheritence tax repeal

Earlier this spring, Indiana made a significant change to its tax laws which will likely affect many of your estates.

August 10, 2013 1:15 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Gifting farmland can be complicated

Q: My parents own a farm and they want to start gifting it to my siblings and I. What is the best way for them to do that?

August 03, 2013 3:14 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Enforcing a living will

Q: I was told by a medical professional they don’t have to follow a living will. He said that a doctor could override a living will and provide life support even if the person signed a living will stating they don’t want the care. Is this true?

July 27, 2013 10:35 am

ESTATE PLANNING: It’s all right to be skeptical

I recently received a message from a client. The message indicated he received a letter from the Indiana Records Department about the transfer on death (TOD) deed I prepared and recorded.

July 20, 2013 3:53 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Enforcing a trust

Q: What can a beneficiary do if a trustee isn’t following the trust? How can he force the trustee to do what he is supposed to do?

July 13, 2013 3:43 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Using and existing trust

Q: If a person who has a revocable trust of his own and also is the ongoing beneficiary of another irrevocable trust dies, can the irrevocable trust distribute the money to his revocable trust rather than directly to his children?

July 06, 2013 3:20 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: A day at the ball park

This past Sunday, my family and I went to the U.S. Steel Yard and watched the RailCats play from one of the outfield party decks. As we sat with friends watching the game, Logan, one of my 11-year-old twins, watched the game from the grassy area at the outfield wall hoping to catch a home run.

June 29, 2013 7:01 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Who can amend the trust?

Q: Can I amend my father’s trust using the power of attorney that he gave me? If not, is there any other way to amend the trust?

June 22, 2013 3:10 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: When a child is born after will is executed

Q: What happens if a child is born after executing a will? Is the new child included?

June 08, 2013 3:05 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Do I still need the trust?

Q: I set up a trust about 10 years ago. Since then, I have spent down my estate and am unsure whether I should keep the trust for the limited assets I have remaining. My question is should I keep my trust and if so, why? How do I revoke it? Can my heirs just ignore it?

June 01, 2013 3:04 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Do non-married couples need to plan?

Q: My partner and I have been living together for almost 10 years. Is there anything special that we need to add to our wills?

May 18, 2013 10:55 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Wills usually provide for death of beneficiary

Q: What happens if a person named in a will dies before the person making the will does? How is it determined who gets his or her share?

May 11, 2013 3:41 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: It's OK to be charitable

Q: I intend to leave all of my money to two charities but I'm concerned that my children will object. I'm worried they will challenge the will. Is there anything I can do to make sure that my wishes are carried out? Should I name someone other than a child executor?

May 04, 2013 9:56 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Which claim period applies?

Q: In researching claims, it appears that there are two statutes of limitations that could apply. One is three months and the other is nine months. How do you know which statute of limitations applies?

April 27, 2013 7:36 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Splitting up the authority

Q: Can I use a power of attorney to appoint different children to do different things? Does my daughter, who is on my checking account, also have authority over my IRA or can I name another child to take care of that? What about medical decisions?

April 20, 2013 2:54 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Planning around a child's spouse

Q: We have three children all of whom are married. One of our son's wives is nice, but we aren't sure that we trust her. How do we make sure she stays out of our estate plan? Is there anything we can do to make sure she doesn't inherit our property?

April 13, 2013 1:30 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Estate planning for digital assets, part two

Last week I wrote about the importance of planning for your digital assets. If you read last week's column, you know that I feel this area of estate planning is going to become more and more important in the future. As we expand our online identities, planning for it is going to become inevitable.

April 06, 2013 4:00 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Estate planning for digital assets

I recently received an email from a reader regarding estate planning in a digital age. The reader had seen a news program on planning for digital assets and thought that it was something that I might be interested in. He was right.

March 30, 2013 12:54 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Adding a beneficiary to a car title

Time to catch up on some of the questions that readers have sent in.

March 23, 2013 10:05 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Oral statements aren't a substitute for a will

Q: My father passed away without a will. However, a few months before he died, he told us what he wanted everyone to get. Unfortunately, he never wrote it down. Is the fact that he told several of us what he wanted enough to carry out his instructions? I know the statements wouldn't revoke a…

March 16, 2013 9:10 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Who will serve as personal representative?

Q: I don't have any family members that live close by. How can I find someone to serve as executor? Can the attorney act as executor?

March 09, 2013 9:13 am

ESTATE PLAN: Plan for a fight

Q: What is the best way to keep my family from fighting over my will? Should I put something to my will that disinherits any family member who causes problems? Should I just leave everything to one person and let him distribute everything?

March 02, 2013 8:54 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Planning for stepchildren

Q: I have a will that leaves everything to my husband and then to my children. Are my two stepchildren included in the will or do I need to amend it? Will it make a difference if I adopt my stepchildren?

February 23, 2013 12:04 pm

ESTATE PLANNING:Plan for your spouse

Q: My wife and I have two children. I want to leave everything to her and, if I outlive her, I want everything to be divided equally between my children. Do I really need a will if I want everything to go to my wife and then my kids? Won't that happen anyway?

February 16, 2013 3:08 pm
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