Settling Your Loved One’s Estate
The way an estate is settled depends on if there is a will, a trust or another legal document in place. A will is generally a straightforward document naming an executor whose job it is to administer the distribution of assets outlined in the will. Trusts are generally more complex than wills and name a trustee who is responsible for administering the directives of the trust. Probate is required for wills and estates where no will or trust is present.
We represent family members in probate proceedings and assist in administering estate planning documents. This includes both supervised and unsupervised probate as well as contested wills.
How The Probate Process Works
When someone dies with either a will or intestate (no will or trust), that person’s estate must go through probate. Probate is a court process that legalizes the transfer of assets outlined in a will and gives creditors time to make claims against the estate before assets are distributed. In cases where there is no will or the will is not considered valid, assets are distributed based on Indiana probate laws.
If the estate is small enough, probate is not required and the estate can be settled using a small estate affidavit. The estate value to qualify for the small estate affidavit changes on a regular basis but can be found in the probate section of the Indiana government site.
Administrating Trusts And Estates
When trusts are structured correctly, they do not need to go through probate. However, there is still a lot of work that must be done to administer a trust: paying debts, taxes and expenses; locating and valuing assets; and ultimately distributing funds in compliance with the terms of the trust.
Family members are often named as trustees to administer the trust. When the trustee does not have the time or expertise to administer the trust, we step in to help make sure everything is done in compliance with the terms of the trust.