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Q: You said in a previous column most personal property owned by a married couple is jointly owned. How do you know for sure?
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…
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.
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.
Q: My husband and I own all of our assets jointly. How do I leave something to my family if I die before him?
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?
"What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married".
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…
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
Q: What happens if a child is born after executing a will? Is the new child included?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
Time to catch up on some of the questions that readers have sent in.
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…
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?
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?
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?
Q: What is the best way to leave my home to my children?
Q: I have a living trust that I want to change. Do I need an attorney to draw up a new trust or can I copy the trust and make the changes that I want and have it notarized?
Q: My grandson and his wife have had their first child. To make sure that they get a will, I have offered to pay for it. Are there any other estate planning documents that new parents should have?
Q: My father passed away a few years ago. While digging in some old boxes, I found a stock certificate. How do I found out if this certificate is still good? If it is good, what do I do with it?
Q: After I die, I want to be cremated. However, one of my kids has already said she won't let that happen and she will fight to make sure that I am buried next to her father.
Q: You’ve written that probate laws vary from state to state and that Indiana’s laws can’t control property in another state. If that’s the case, how can an Indiana will control property located in another state? Do you need a will executed in the other state also?
Q: If you want to disinherit a person in a will, should you still leave them $1 to make it legal?
Q: After my parents die, I am the trustee of their trust. I know I have to have their property appraised. The home and the bank accounts will be easy to appraise, but what about the other property? How do I value the personal property and the stocks and bonds?
Q: I would like to establish a trust for each of my grandchildren, but I’m concerned about the cost. Is there a way to set up a trust for them without a lot of expense?
Q: My wife and I have been considering setting up a trust. However, when we research them, it seems like there are 100 different types of trusts. Some of them seem to do the same thing only have different names. How do we know which type of trust we should use?
Q: Didn’t Indiana revoke the inheritance tax?
Q: What happens if I leave my property to someone in my will but give it away to someone else while I’m alive? Should I draw up a new will?
Q: My estate basically consists of my house and my bank account. My kids are on the house already. If I divide the bank accounts into three equal accounts and name one child on each account, will that separate my estate equally? Do I still need a will?
Q: If I have a bank account in an Illinois bank, will it still be subject to Indiana Inheritance Tax?
My buddy Bill took me to a Jackson Browne concert this past weekend. Bill and I grew up together in the old neighborhood. We don't get to see each other as much as we should, which is kind of sad since we always have a good time when we do.
Q: It's been almost a year since my mother passed away and her trust still hasn't distributed out the money to the beneficiaries. Aren't trusts supposed to speed up the process? I almost feel like probate would have been faster.
I just finished reading a book by Michael Schumacher called the "Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald."
Q: I am an Indiana resident with an Indiana will. My wife and I also own a home in Michigan that we use on weekends. Do we need to create Michigan wills for the Michigan home?
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