Estate Planning:
Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney

Estate Planning

You never know when life may change.

It could happen suddenly, when you least expect it. Many people assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy.  Others assume that a Last Will and Testament is a sufficient “plan.”  However, it is critical that you create and complete a comprehensive estate plan to protect you and your family no matter what your financial status.

This is one of the most important things that anyone can do to safeguard life now and later on for you and/or your loved ones. 

 

An estate plan is necessary to ensure that your financial and personal needs are taken care of by the persons of your choosing and that your affairs are settled in an orderly fashion after your death. For those who want to leave a family legacy (especially small businesses and farms), we can secure these assets for the future generations with the least amount of interference in your current use of the asset.

Additionally, the cost of long-term care may jeopardize an individual’s accumulated wealth, surpassing death taxes and administration costs.  We often work with individuals facing an immediate need for long-term care and successfully assist them in protecting assets.  However, the best time to protect assets from the costs of long-term care is well before it’s needed.

The further in advance you plan, the more flexible and successful your asset protection plan will be.

A well-crafted estate plan should address a broad range of issues and provide appropriate persons with the authority and instructions they need.

 This includes answers to questions like:

  • Who would take care of you and your affairs if you were incapacitated?
  • Who would handle your finances?
  • Who would make health care decisions?
  • How would these individuals care for you and your affairs?
  • How can you protect your assets should you require long-term care?
  • How can you ensure that your spouse is protected if you need long-term care?
  • Are other family members reliant on your care, and would this process require protecting assets for them in the event of your long-term care need?
  • What happens to your assets after you die?
  • How will assets be allocated among beneficiaries?
  • How do you avoid the cost of probate?
  • Do you need to place restrictions or protections over the inheritance for a loved one due to disability, poor money management, substance addiction, or unstable marriage?
  • Who would provide care for your minor child(ren) or child(ren) with a disability if you become incapacitated or when you die?
  • How would you like your child(ren) to be taken care of upon your passing?
  • If death taxes are an issue for you, how might you reduce your estate tax exposure?
  • How do you ensure your spouse is adequately provided for, while ensuring inheritance for your child(ren)?

Without an effective plan, persons not of your choosing may be placed in charge of your affairs.  In addition, a guardianship may be needed where a judge makes decisions about your health care and finances that may be contrary to your desires.  Your estate may also be unduly assessed costs that could have been avoided with an effective plan.

We will also guide you in creating a specific and customized estate plan – drafting such things as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care advance directives, funeral planning directives, and any other necessary legal documents.

An effective plan anticipates many possible scenarios – from death and disability to Medicaid and nursing home care.

My business is a part of me. I celebrate my clients’ achievements, and I suffer through their losses with them. They are getting a full investment out of me when they hire me. I enjoy working with folks, learning more about them, and not just focusing on the situation.

-Jeffery D. Stinson, Certified Elder Law Attorney

My business is a part of me. I celebrate my clients’ achievements, and I suffer through their losses with them. They are getting a full investment out of me when they hire me. I enjoy working with folks, learning more about them, and not just focusing on the situation.

-Jeffery D. Stinson, Certified Elder Law Attorney

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a will and estate planning?

A Last Will and Testament will determine how your probate assets are distributed at death, but the Will is just a small cog in your estate plan. A Power of Attorney and Health Care Advance Directive is essential to ensure your chosen individual has the authority to manage finances and arrange health care for you if you become incapacitated. Without these key documents, your loved ones will be forced to proceed with an expensive and time-consuming process to obtain a guardianship through a Court.

Furthermore, a comprehensive review of your plan is essential to meeting your goals. Ensuring that beneficiaries of life insurance, IRAs, or other accounts match the beneficiaries of the Will is necessary to ensure the right beneficiaries receive the correct inheritance.

What is a trust?

A simple illustration is to compare a trust to a bucket. The bucket can hold a variety of assets -bank accounts, real estate, stocks, bonds, et cetera – but the individual components are still contained within the bucket. A Grantor created the bucket and provides instructions to a Trustee on how to use the trust fund for the Beneficiary.

Will my estate by subject to death tax?

Fewer people today are subject to the death taxes than once before. The first $12.06 million* in tax is exempt from federal estate taxes. The estate tax is “portable” between spouses which means a surviving spouse can use the unused portion of the first spouse’s exemption thereby passing up to $24.12* million tax free.

The Indiana Inheritance tax was abolished on December 31, 2012, alieving many modest estates of a once required tax burden.

This typically makes long-term care costs the expense to most likely place a person’s savings in jeopardy.

*As of 2022

Can’t I just get estate planning documents online?

We at Stinson Law Firm are proud of our documents. Years of study and improvements have made them what they are. However, our value to you is not in the documents themselves, rather our counsel in the need for particular documents and how to use those documents.

Purchasing documents through an online system may be a cheaper alternative, but only an attorney can ensure that those documents are sufficient and comprehensive enough to meet your goals. We review your goals with you, help you identify the appropriate individuals who will respond for you when needed, ensure that those individuals have the legal authority necessary to meet your goals through the appropriate legal documentation, and ensure that each of these estate plan “pieces” connect. We also review the pitfalls of choosing one document or alternative over another. Finally, we ensure that each document is executed according to Indiana law. We often find a lack of proper formality in the execution of “do-it-yourself” documents that invalidates the document.

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