When you are in the field of estate planning you keep an eye on statistical data that has been compiled about estate planning preparedness. Over the years surveys consistently find that most people do not have a proper estate plan that includes a last will or a trust of some kind to arrange for asset transfers.
This is rather amazing when you think about it because we are all aware of the fact that death is considered to be one of the two inevitable events that we face. How can you logically go through life without a last will or a trust when you know for sure that you will pass away someday?
Procrastinating and putting yourself at risk is one thing if you are going to be the person suffering the consequences should they arise. When you execute a last will or trust you are taking action for the benefit of those that you love. If you do nothing, you are not going to be around to experience the fallout. Your family members will be left holding the bag as it were.
You may have heard the term “intestacy.” This is the word that is used to describe the situation that ensues when someone dies without a last will or a trust. If you were to die intestate the property that you have in your possession would be distributed to your closest relatives under the intestate succession laws of the state of Indiana.
These laws vary a bit state-by-state. In a general sense, your spouse and your children come first, followed by your parents, and then your siblings.
You may not want your property distributed in precisely the manner that is dictated by the intestate succession rules. In addition to this, the actual distribution would take a great deal of time because of the fact that the probate court would be charged with the responsibility of sorting everything out without any instructions having been left behind by the decedent.
There is also the matter of incapacity planning when you are planning your estate. Executing a last will or a trust is certainly an important part of the equation, but you should also address the period of time that would logically precede your death. You may not be able to make sound decisions, and you can account for this possibility by executing durable powers of attorney.
It is relatively easy and inexpensive to consult with a licensed Indiana estate planning attorney to put a solid estate plan in place. If you choose to do nothing and let the chips fall as they may you are clearly doing your family a disservice. The stark reality is that intestacy is really not a viable option for serious minded individuals.