National Probate Lawyers Based in Indiana Protecting Your Family and Life’s Work
Imagine for a moment working your entire life to cultivate a lifestyle for you and your family members. Maybe you’ve successfully built a business, own a home, and grown your savings and retirement accounts from scratch.
Whatever your proud accomplishments, the very idea that your family can lose all of these hard-earned assets in an instant with your passing is inconceivable.
Probate attorneys with Katie Charleston Law, P.C. offer a suite of asset protection services. This includes estate planning services to protect your assets in the event of your death. Additionally, we help with probate legal services and litigation to ensure your rights are protected in the event your estate is contested.
This is a guide to protecting your family, your hard-earned assets, and your life’s work. From this, you should:
- Understand the probate process
- Learn how to avoid the probate process
- Know when you might need the services of a probate lawyer
- Other steps you can take to protect your family
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process in which a deceased person’s estate is settled after his or her death.
There are two specific scenarios in the legal probate process applies:
Probate with a will: When a person passes away, the next, first step is engaging the court. The court will determine if the will is valid and authentic by calling on the listed witnesses to ensure your loved one, when creating the will, was of sound mind.
This process also will include ensuring the will meets the court’s other conditions for the executor to distribute assets as intended.
Probate without a will: Should a will fail this test, on the other hand, the assets will fall into intestacy, and the probate court will then be responsible for determining the distribution of the deceased’s assets.
More specifically, who the assets now go to, which likely falls outside of the will’s intentions.
A situation like this could lead to a long, expensive, and drawn-out probate legal battle many people think of when they think of the probate process.
Our estate planning lawyers with Katie Charleston Law, P.C. can put an estate strategy in place to protect you and your family members and also provide solutions as to how you can avoid probate altogether.
How Do I Avoid Probate?
There’s a common misconception or two among many folks regarding the probate process and how to avoid it. Our probate attorneys can debunk some of the myths and shed light on the facts that will help you better navigate the process.
One idea is that you can avoid the probate process altogether, as long as you have a will-in place. A will is, indeed, one important tool in proactively protecting your assets, though simply having one in place does not mean that you are exempt from the probate process.
The legal protocol is that all wills must go through this process, except wills with a qualified exemption. And for good reason. The Indiana court system takes this time to validate and authenticate the will before the executor and probate attorney can begin distributing the decedent’s assets.
Now moving on to a few scenarios in which you could avoid probate altogether, the size of your estate might allow you to skip the probate process. As an example, you may qualify for a small estate affidavit, which keeps your estate out of probate court or limits the probate process.
In Indiana specifically, the maximum qualifying estate is $50,000. If the total gross value of your estate falls under these amounts, you don’t need to worry about the time or expense of probate as you can avoid it altogether.
Another consideration in avoiding probate is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust transfers the title of your assets to avoid probate. When you pass, the trust owns the assets, and they will be distributed according to your instruction.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
You’ll want to consider hiring a probate attorney after a loved one has passed away. Our probate attorneys with Katie Charleston Law, P.C. can help.
A probate attorney, also referred to as an estate attorney, is hired for a very specific purpose—to supervise the overall probate process and help settle and distribute assets according to your loved one’s will and estate plan.
As another way to look at it, a probate attorney’s job, like that of Katie Charleston Law, P.C., is to legally carry out your loved one’s final wishes. With this comes the duties of paying out estate assets and property to the deemed beneficiaries and heirs, as well as settling outstanding debts and taxes.
Probate attorneys typically represent an heir to an estate, a personal representative, or the state itself.
Our team of probate lawyers with Katie Charleston Law, P.C. work side-by-side with the executors to lessen the burden of executing the will and estate, so they can focus on other personal matters as part of the death and grieving process.
Speaking to this more specifically, probate lawyers help accomplish several things when settling an estate, including, but not limited to:
- Identifying all estate assets
- Preparing and filing court documents
- Collecting life insurance policy proceeds
- Determining inheritance taxes and appropriate payouts
- Paying out the estate and income taxes, debts, and final bills
- Formalizing and retitling assets in beneficiaries’ names
- Opening and managing the estate’s checking account
- Ordering property appraisals for property, as appropriate
A probate lawyer will be an important tool in successfully executing the estate, from start to finish.
What Steps Should I Take to Protect My Family?
Sources show nearly 50 to 60 percent of Americans don’t have a will or estate plan. That’s a lot of unprotected assets the court will claim if you don’t have the legal tools in place to protect yourself.
Take it from Indiana probate lawyers with Katie Charleston Law, P.C.—being proactive with the estate planning process, which includes your will, a possible trust, and other strategies to protect your assets, is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your family and avoid probate, and costly probate litigation.
The only thing your family should be focused on when a loved one passes is grieving and taking care of each other.
In summary, consider these steps to proactively plan for unanticipated events:
Work with an estate attorney: Discuss how your estate and estate assets will be handled, put your vision on paper, and have an attorney make it official.
Draft a will: Be clear with your intentions and determine the beneficiaries and executor of your will, and definitively outline how and where your assets should go. Drafting, and structuring a will, is one of the benefits of working with an estate planning attorney with knowledge of probate.
Consider a trust or living trust: Our Indiana estate planning attorneys can help you set up a living trust for any asset you own, from real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, properties, and so on. A trust, remember, will help you avoid probate.
Take steps to protect your family and your future while avoiding unnecessary probate and legal costs. Do this by booking a free consultation with Katie Charleston Law, P.C. today (317) 663-9190.