Wills and Estates
I feel that it is important for clients to
have wills. No matter how simple or complicated your estate, it
will definitely benefit from a well-thought-out will. A will
saves your loved ones time and expense after you are gone.
Below are some key facts that lead one to this opinion.
Contact Szakaly Law Office by e-mail or by
telephone (812) 322-7300 to have a will done today.
Probating a will is a simple, quick, and inexpensive
process. One common misconception is that not having a will
makes things simpler, because it avoids probate and taxes. It
does not. First of all, the lack of a will does not necessarily
avoid probate. Second, estate tax is determined by who inherits
and the size of the estate, not whether it goes through probate.
In addition, many people think that probate is a time
consuming and expensive process. It is not. It is simply the
process of proving a will's validity after your death, and
involves filing the will and the death certificate at the
clerk's office in the county in which the testator last
resided. A fee is paid, and Letters
Testamentary (documents that give authority to act to your
executor, the person you designate to handle the affairs of your
estate). The whole process takes between 30 and 45 minutes.
Having a will saves your loved ones expense.
should die without a will (or "intestate"), a bond must
be posted to make sure that the estate is administered properly.
The annual premiums on that bond during the administration of
your estate will most likely be significantly more than it would
cost you to hire a lawyer to prepare a will that relieves your
executor of that responsibility.
A will insures that your estate will be handled in the manner
you want it to be.
A will is a set of instructions for the
distribution of your assets upon your death, and the only way to
make sure that those assets are distributed according to your
wishes is to have a will. If you leave no will, the State decides
who will represent your estate, and a set of laws called
"Intestate Succession" determines who gets what. Under
that law, non family members cannot inherit, and if no one
survives you that can, all of your property will go to the State
What if you have children from a prior marriage that your
current spouse has not adopted? If you die intestate, your spouse
gets everything. But if your spouse then subsequently dies
without a will, your children will not be provided for.
Another problem arises if you have minor children. First of
all, who will take care of them if you die without your spouse
surviving you? Only through a will can you name a guardian to
take care of your children. Second of all, what if your minor
children are the only ones that stand to inherit because your
spouse died before you do? Without a will that sets up a trust
for those children and names a trustee to look after it, you can
only imagine the litigation that that can lead to, with people
fighting over who should take care of the children and who gets
control of their money.
A will can help even if you just want to pass your estate
to your spouse.
Many people think that, since they want
everything to go to their surviving spouse, they don't need a
will. Although intestate succession would insure that it went to
your surviving spouse, what if you both die within five days of
one another or together in an automobile accident? Under the law,
that would cause a bit of confusion as to which direction the
assets go. Does it all pass to the husband's estate or to the
wife's? Or did they truly die simultaneously, and so it goes to
the children, and they are minors!
What if you have filed for divorce, receive an inheritance of
your own, and then die before the divorce becomes final? Your
spouse could then obtain property that he or she might not have
been entitled to in the divorce.
A will is simple to change and modify. Some people
think that having a will sets things in stone and involves effort
to change. Not so. Simple changes, such as the name of an
executor, guardian, trustee, or heir, can be affected by a
codicil. This is a document that refers to your will and sets
forth specific changes to its text. The two should be kept
together at all times.
A commercial will kit is no substitute for a will drafted
by an attorney.
Will kits are prepared so as to be used in
all fifty states. Therefore, problems can arise from the
inevitable differences in the laws of each state, and even one
mistake could lead to the expenditure of time and money by your
loved ones, especially if the mistake prevents your will from
being probated! Also, you may not know the tax consequences to
your estate, and thus not plan it properly in order to maximize
your family's inheritance. After all, if you can't take it with
you, why should the government get it?
You can see that the advantages of having a will are
greater than the disadvantages. It is worth the time and
money to make sure that your family will be
taken care of when you are gone.
For more information on estate planning
and wills, try the following site which will
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The information set forth above constitutes general answers
to certain questions pertaining to Indiana Estate Law and is
not intended or designed to replace the advice of an attorney
after a careful review of the individual facts of your case.
Please feel free to call or e-mail
Andy Szakaly to discuss your case.