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Highland Wills And Trusts Lawyer Working To Set Up Your Future

Managing your affairs to prepare for after your death is not a pleasant subject for anyone, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed during your lifetime while you are fit, well and competent.

Wills and trusts can be complex documents, with plenty of legal requirements, legislation, and boxes to tick. Distinguishing between the two can be tricky, and it is important to ensure that you have all the facts at hand to allow you to make a clear, confident decision.

What Is A Will?

In the simplest terms, a will is a document in which the writer dictates how their property should be handled after their death. It is an important document for anyone with property or assets of any kind; if you die without a will in place, Indiana law will determine how your property is managed and given away, known as intestate succession laws.

Intestate succession laws divide the assets between those left behind based on their relationships to the deceased. This will change depending on whether you were married, had children, and whether those children were a result of the marriage in place at the time of your death. Your spouse will generally receive first priority, along with any dependents.

What Is The Process For Creating A Will?

Indiana makes it easy to draw up your will, and anyone aged at least 18 and of sound mind can write one. It must be made totally voluntarily, with no external pressure, and needs to be in writing to be legally valid. You will need two witnesses, who will also need to sign the will.

Unlike other states, Indiana law does not require a will to be notarized. Instead, it should be self-proving, meaning that the validity has been affirmed by both the deceased and the witnesses through their signing. This eliminates the risk of complications in probate after death.

A will can be revoked or canceled at any time if it is destroyed, or if a new will is created. The latest copy will always take precedence over the predecessor. For this reason, any changes must be made in writing to ensure that your will is always up to date and legally valid.

What Is A Trust?

A trust is another method of dealing with your assets after death. It occurs when one person (the settlor) transfers property to another (the trustee). The trustee will then keep the property for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). As an example, you may wish your child to be the beneficiary of your property, but Indiana law forbids minors from inheriting property. As a solution, you may put your home in a trust, protected by a trustee, until your child is of age to inherit.

There are several types of trust, including:

  • Revocable trusts: Often referred to as a “living trust,” these are created during the lifetime of the settlor, and reserve the right to be altered or revoked at any time. They become effective immediately upon signing. In these examples, the settlor will serve as the initial trustee, transfer the title of a property to a trust, and retain the ability to remove the property from the trust at any time in their life. Revocable trusts help to avoid probate, as the ownership of assets is transferred during the life of the settlor – when the settlor dies, the trust then owns the asset. Any assets will, however, remain available to creditors.
  • Irrevocable trust: A revocable trust will often evolve into an irrevocable trust when the settlor dies. They can also be created from scratch and may not be changed, altered, or revoked once they have been created. Once the property is transferred to the trust, not even the settlor can take it back. These trusts are commonly used for large, complicated estates.

Can I Set Up A Trust?

As with a will, anyone the age of 18 and of sound mind is permitted to set up a trust. All details must be set out in writing, and the document should name the assets to be included, the name of the trustee, the names of any beneficiaries, what the beneficiaries should receive, and that the trust is being established for a legitimate, lawful purpose.

Should I Choose A Will or A Trust?

The decision of selecting a will or a trust is a personal one, and there are a few differences to help you make up your mind.

  • Probate: Any property placed in a trust will not go through probate, and this will allow any property to be distributed quickly, privately, and without drama. It speeds up the process and can limit legal fees.
  • Privacy: Any will you make is going to be a matter of public record – this does not apply to trusts. Trusts allow any property to be distributed privately, with a will, and it is required that any person entitled to claim assets be notified.
  • Flexibility: Trusts tend to be more flexible than a will; property and beneficiaries can be added or removed without having to set up a whole new document.
  • Maturity of inheritors: Trusts can restrict access of inheritors to their assets until they come of age; this can help to protect any property from an over-excited beneficiary.
  • Simplicity: The act of setting up both trusts and wills can be a very detail-oriented process, but with the correct guidance, it is achievable.

What Are My Next Steps?

Drawing up a will or creating a trust is a process that can be undertaken independently, but the situation can often become complicated. To make sure that you have considered every angle, it is usually a good idea to seek professional legal advice, especially in the case of large estates and assets. Here at Hilbrich Law Firm, we have been helping clients settle their wills and trusts all across Highland, and can help you to make a sensible, informed decision. Let us guide you. Call us today at 219-444-4330 or reach out to us online.