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ESTATE PLANNING: What does an executor do?

Q: I have been asked to act as an executor in someone's will. I'm not even sure what the executor does. Any advice?

October 18, 2014 2:44 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: What happens if I don't have a will?

October 11, 2014 12:25 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Prepare for the meeting

Q: We are ready to make an appointment with an attorney to plan our estates. What should we take with us to the meeting?

October 04, 2014 3:39 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Why have a power of attorney

Q: I recently completed my estate plan. I signed a power or attorney but I have no idea why I have it or what I'm supposed to do with it.

September 20, 2014 4:09 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: What happens if the person named executor dies?

September 13, 2014 4:23 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Prius or a Hummer?

Q: Some of my friends have trusts but my attorney hasn't suggested one for me. Which is better, a trust or a will?

September 06, 2014 4:01 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Home valuation after death

Q: I had my parent's home appraised for the court. I was given an appraised value, but my real estate agent told me there was no way that I could get that for the home. Which value should I use for the estate? Does it really make a difference since there isn't a death tax anymore?

August 30, 2014 12:07 pm


Q: Last week you wrote about the different ways to own rental property. It sounds like you prefer to use an LLC rather than a trust. Isn't there a way to limit liability and avoid probate? What if you own multiple rental properties?

August 23, 2014 5:24 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: You keep talking about probate and wills. Doesn't a will avoid probate?

August 16, 2014 3:20 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Who's got the will?

Q: My mother's estate has been opened. However, we believe there is a newer will. We haven't found it yet, but we have found a letter where she mentions a newer one. How do I find out if she recorded the will? Will it list her assets in it?

August 02, 2014 7:30 pm


This weekend we are holding my dad's memorial service.

July 26, 2014 3:35 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Medical power of attorney for your children

Q: My brother and sister-in-law are going to watch our kids while we take a trip. Our estate plan is in place, but now I'm worried what will happen if one of the kids gets hurt while we are away. How do we authorize my brother to consent to medical care? Is this something we even need to wor…

July 19, 2014 11:12 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: Is there a way to give a power of attorney to my children without giving up the authority to do things for myself? I don't mind them helping out, but I still want to do things for myself as long as I can.

July 12, 2014 4:27 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Who needs a trust?

Q: When does a person need a living trust?

June 28, 2014 4:36 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: We just moved back to Indiana. Our wills were drawn up in Minnesota. Are our wills valid or should we have new ones drawn up?

May 31, 2014 11:22 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Saying goodbye to my dad

My father passed away this past week. He celebrated his 84t birthday on Monday and passed away Friday.

May 24, 2014 10:50 am

ESTATE PLANNING: 'Here's your next column'

"Here's your next column". That was the subject line on an email that my wife recently sent to me. Since I'm always looking for a topic for my column I excitedly opened the email.

May 17, 2014 3:14 pm

ESTATE PLANNING: Changing the power of attorney

Q: I executed a power of attorney a few years ago. I want to change the person that I named to someone else. How do I change the person? Do I need to revoke the old power of attorney and then write a new one?

May 04, 2014 12:00 am

ESTATE PLANNING: Catching up on readers' questions

Q: If I leave something to someone in my will, what happens if I give it away during my lifetime? Should I write a new will?

April 26, 2014 9:56 am

ESTATE PLANNING: National Healthcare Decisions Day

So I'm driving into the office this morning listening to National Public Radio.

April 19, 2014 4:13 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: 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: 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: 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: 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
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