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Why You (Yes, You!) Need an Estate Plan
Do you have stuff? Are you going to die someday? If so, then you need to think about what you want to have happen to that stuff after you’re gone. In other words, you need an estate plan.
In Indiana, if you are married with children and die without a will, your spouse inherits only half of your estate. [I.C. 29-1-2-1(b)]. If you’ve been married more than once, your spouse might inherit less than that. [I.C. 29-1-2-1(c)].
If you are not married, then your estate will go to your children or parents or siblings. [I.C. 29-1-2-1(d)]. Indiana statutes provide a number of options for handling your property after you pass away. If the law distributes your property exactly the way you want, then that’s wonderful.
You do have options, however, to distribute or bequeath your property differently.
For example: Carol and Mike each have children from a previous marriage when they get married. Mike never formally adopts Carol’s children, but he wants to provide for them after he is gone.
He can buy life insurance policies and list those children as beneficiaries. He can create trusts for each of the children. He can include those children in his will. By discussing these options with his financial adviser and his estate attorney, Mike can make his own decision on how best to take care of his blended family.
Also, if Mike wants to leave something for anyone outside his family, he has several options for that as well. He can create a charitable trust for the Future Architects Club at his high school, while also leaving a bit of cash to a couple of friends.
Finally, if Mike wants to leave his drafting table to his oldest son and his autographed football to his stepdaughter, he can do that with a will or by making an outright gift. By consulting an attorney to craft an estate plan, his possessions can be distributed how he wants instead of how the state says it has to be.