Estate Planning Matters

Planning and Administration

You are never too young to begin planning your Estate. You will experience the feeling of relief by taking care of your Estate and related affairs. Most of us think clearly when not under pressure. Advance Estate planning has many advantages and rewards for you and your beneficiaries. Planning ahead relieves you and your family members of stressful times, while allowing you to provide thoughtfully and lovingly for your surviving family members and for your surviving family relationship.

Likewise, parents of minor children should arrange their personal affairs and should provide planning with regard to care and custody of their precious beloved children.

Estate planning includes the following areas:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Trust for Children
  • Guardian Ad Litem for Children
  • Allocation of Assets

A Will is a written document that tells how you want your property and assets to be disposed after your death.  Indiana has certain requirements for a Will to be enforceable.  I can help you plan your Estate to make sure that your Estate will be distributed as you want pursuant to your exact intentions.  Your Last Will and Testament can provide how you want your minor children cared for after your death.  If you die with a Will, then your Estate is testate.  If you die without a Will, then your Estate is intestate.  Indiana has statutes governing the distribution of your property in the event you do not have a properly executed Last Will and Testament. 

Advance Directives and Power of Attorney

  1. Living Will Declaration.  A Living Will Declaration puts into words what you want to happen if you are terminally ill, your death will occur in a short time, and the use of prolonging procedures will only serve to artificially prolong your death. Do you want artificial nutrition? Do you want artificial hydration? Or maybe you want your healthcare representative to make the decision if the time comes. Regardless, you have the right to express your specific intention in your Living Will Declaration. A Living Will Declaration allows you to make your own decision and relieves the stress of having your family members bear the burden of making a critical decision that may subsequently result in longstanding guilt feelings, family feuds, arguments, and even lawsuits. Through a Living Will Declaration you can express your personal and well thought out intentions. A Living Will Declaration allows you to remain in control of your healthcare decisions even when you no longer have the capacity to communicate with your healthcare providers, with your family members, and/or with other persons. 
  2. Durable Power of Attorney Appointment. A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to manage your affairs and to act on your behalf, whether you are competent and whether you are incompetent. A Durable Power of Attorney may be a benefit to you with regard to your Estate planning. If you executed a General Durable Power of Attorney, you will want to determine if you want to include “digital assets” as a part of your General Durable Power of Attorney, which includes the authority with regard to all electronic records, reports, and statements, including authority to: (i) gain access to and exercise control over your digital assets, (ii) access to your user accounts with online service providers, (iii) access, retrieve, copy, or store electronic communications sent or received by you, and (iv) perform any acts in connection with the use of electronic records pertaining to your affairs. The Durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate a person to act on your behalf regarding your financial and personal issues. In your Durable Power of Attorney, you may also name a Guardian for yourself. If you are out of town, out of the country, ill, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to act on your behalf, then you may designate a person to conduct any business and to sign binding documents in your name. Powers of Attorney may be limited to specific matters or may be broad. It is important to understand that there are many options and variations available with the execution of a Power of Attorney. Frank Brinkman Law, P.C., will explain to you your options and the ramifications so you may make a careful, informed decision in selecting a person to serve as your Power of Attorney. 
  3. Healthcare Power of Attorney Appointment.  A Healthcare Power of Attorney Appointment or Healthcare Representative allows you to designate a person who can act on your behalf if you do not have the capacity to communicate with your healthcare providers and/or to make informed healthcare decisions for reason of lack of capacity.  A Healthcare Power of Attorney Representative/Healthcare Power of Attorney Appointment is a valuable Estate planning instrument. 
  4. Appointment of Lay Caregiver. An executed appointment of a Lay Caregiver will allow a designated person to assist you with your recovery from a hospital stay. The hospital and healthcare provider is authorized to consult with your Lay Caregiver with regard to your care needs and issue an at-home care plan that describes your aftercare needs following discharge from the hospital, healthcare provider, or other provider to your home. Without the execution of an “Appointment of Lay Caregiver,” your hospital, healthcare provider, or other provider may not be able to communicate with your Lay Caregiver for reason of confidentiality, for reason of HIPPAA, and for reason of other privilege information. The execution of an “Appointment of Lay Caregiver” is a valuable Estate planning instrument.
  5. Beneficiary Designations. Often you are able to designate a beneficiary to receive your non-probate assets after you die, including but not limited to real estate, employment benefits, retirement accounts, IRAs, insurance benefits, bank accounts, investment accounts, motor vehicles, tangible personal property, and intangible personal property which you own. Often the beneficiaries can be a spouse, children, siblings, other family members, significant others, and other persons. Beneficiary Designation should be made when you want to ensure that your property and assets are received by the specific person or persons of your choice, regardless of their relationship to you. You can designate beneficiaries to the following: 
  • Bank Accounts
  • Real Estate
  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Accounts
  • 401 Accounts
  •  IRA Accounts
  • Financial Investment Accounts
  • Real Estate and other property/assets
  • Titles to motor vehicles and personal property

Providing for Your Children:

In your Will you can designate the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem for your minor children. The naming of a presumptive Guardian for your children will notify the Court and the world of your wishes and your intentions. This may assist in avoiding a family dispute or the appointment of a person as Guardian Ad Litem who is not your preference. 

If parents set aside property for their minor children, then you, as a parent, may want the assets to be deposited in a trust to be managed and to be distributed for the health, education, welfare, support, and related needs for the benefit of your children. You will need to provide specific instructions in the Trust for the benefit of your children. 

It is always best to provide your family members and all healthcare providers with a copy of your Healthcare Designation, your Healthcare Representative Appointment, your General Durable Power of Attorney, your Living Will Declaration, your Appointment of Lay Caregiver, and other legal instruments so your healthcare provider, your doctor, your hospital, and your close family members know of your intentions. 

Remember, to update your Estate plan.

After you have executed your Estate planning instruments, Frank Brinkman Law, P.C., recommends that you periodically review the legal instruments to make sure they are current.  Often, with the passage of time, Estate planning instruments may become outdated.  The following situations could result in the out-dating of your Estate planning legal instruments:

  • Your children become adults
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Remarriage 
  • Retirement
  • Death of a Spouse
  • Death of Beneficiaries
  • Moving to a Different State
  • Acquisition of Property
  • Property No Longer in Existence
  • Change in your Beneficiaries
  • Change in your Intentions
  • And For Other Reasons

Frank Brinkman Law, P.C., is ready, willing, and able to assist you in the administration of your Estate when necessary.  

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