estate planning

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Estate Planning Attorney in Highland, IN

Contact Hilbrich Law Firm today; we can help you with all of your estate planning needs. The following list is provided as a reference for estate planning documents and considerations you may want to review when meeting with one of our attorneys.

Estate Planning Documents and Considerations

Last Will and Testament: A "Will" is an instrument which disposes of your estate following your death. It allows you to select to whom and in what proportion your possessions will pass and who will act as your Personal Representative to carry out your wishes. You generally execute only one original Will document. You may opt to keep your original Will on file at your attorney's office. If so, you should be provided with three (3) photocopies that are not originally executed, but contain all information in typed form for your records and review. It is generally not advisable to keep your Trust, Will, and/or advance directives in a safe-deposit box, as these items need to be easily accessible to your next-of-kin or estate Personal Representative.

Living Trust: A "Living Trust" is an arrangement whereby property is transferred from the settlor (person making the Trust) to a Trustee. Once the Trust itself has been executed, the ownership of your assets then must be transferred so that the Trust owns them. This should include all bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and nearly everything you own. Most Trusts are "self-trusteed", meaning that the individual establishing the Trust will also act as Trustee. Since you are the "Trustee", you maintain complete control. Upon your passing or in the event of your resignation or inability to act as Trustee, the Trust provides for a successor Trustee to take over the management of the Trust and provides for the management and ultimate distribution to the designated beneficiaries. Although the Living Trust takes the place of a traditional Will, it is normally prepared with an auxiliary "Pour-Over" Will. The "Pour-Over" Will merely assures that any asset in the settlor's sole name and not held by the Trust at the time of death will be collected by the Will and "poured over" into the Trust for disposition under the terms of the Trust.

A Living Trust is generally revocable in nature, though an Irrevocable Trust is frequently used as an estate planning tool to remove assets, such as life insurance, from the estate of the settlor. A Trust is optional for estates falling below the estate tax exclusion for federal estate tax purposes, but it is often recommended for probate avoidance alone where the asset picture suggests a probate estate will likely result upon death.

Federal Estate Tax: Decedents with substantial assets may need to file a Federal Estate Tax Return. The tax is on total transfers whether occurring as lifetime gifts or upon death. A valuable exception is each person can give $13,000 per year per person without said amounts being included in lifetime or death transfer totals. The estate tax exclusion currently is $5,000,000. Gifts during life to any person exceeding $13,000 per year will reduce the total exclusion available upon death. Where total applicable gifts and potential estate assets exceed the estate tax exclusion, a Trust is sometimes recommended, not only for probate avoidance, but for potential tax avoidance. Your attorney can assist you in determining which type of estate plan is best suited to your personal situation. To repeat, in 2011 and 2012, the exclusion is $5,000,000 per person. The 2012 election and future legislation will dictate the amount of the exclusion after 2012.

Indiana Inheritance Tax: There is also a state tax on an individual heir's share of assets received from individuals dying while a resident of Indiana. Tax rates and exemptions vary depending on the relationship of the heir to the decedent. There is no inheritance tax charged to a surviving spouse or charity, however, all others are separated into three (3) different "classes" as follows:

  • Class "A" Children born, adopted or having a parent/child relationship since the child was age 15 or younger, step-children, grandchildren, parents, and, grandparents.
  • Class "B" Brother, sister, descendant of brother or sister, wife or widow of son, husband or widower of daughter.
  • Class "C" All others including but not limited to cousins, friends, brother/sister-in-law.

Class "A" beneficiaries receive a $100,000 exemption, so the first $100,000 per beneficiary is basically tax free. Thereafter, tax is imposed on the net taxable value as follows:

Tax Rate

Amount of Tax Imposed

$25,000 or less

1% of Net Taxable Value

Over $25,000 but under $50,000

$250 + 2% of Net Taxable Value over $25,000

Over $50,000 but under $200,000

$750 + 3% of Net Taxable Value over $50,000

Over $200,000 but under $300,000

$5,250 + 4% of Net Taxable Value over $200,000

Over $300,000 but under $500,000

$9,250 + 5% of Net Taxable Value over $300,000

Over $500,000 but under $700,000

$19,250 + 6% of Net Taxable Value over $500,000
Over $700,000 but under $1,000,000 $31,250 + 7% of Net Taxable Value over $700,000
Over $1,000,000 but under $1,500,000 $52,250 + 8% of Net Taxable Value over $1,000,000
Over $1,500,000 $92,250 + 1% of Net Taxable Value over $1,500,000

Class "B" beneficiaries receive a $500 exemption. Thereafter, tax is imposed on the net taxable value as follows:

Tax Rate

Amount of Tax Imposed

$100,000 or less

7% of Net Taxable Value

Over $100,000 but under $500,000

$7,000 + 10% on Amount over $100,000

Over $500,000 but under $1,000,000

$47,000 + 12% on Amount over $500,000

Over $1,000,000 but under $1,500,000

$107,000 plus 15% of Amount over $1,000,000

Class "C" beneficiaries receive a $100 exemption. Thereafter, tax is imposed on the net taxable value as follows:

Tax Rate

Amount of Tax Imposed

$100,000 or less


Over $100,000 but under $1,000,000

$10,000 + 15% of Amount over $100,000

Over $500,000 but under $1,000,000

$47,000 + 12% on Amount over $500,000

Over $1,000,000

$145,000 plus 20% of Amount over $1,000,000


  • Wills
  • Trust
  • Living Will
  • Health Care Durable Power of Attorney
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Medicaid Issues
  • Long Term Nursing Care
  • Funeral Trusts
  • Anatomical Gifts
  • Federal Estate Tax Issues
  • Indiana Inheritance Tax Issues
  • Intestacy, Spousal Rights, Prenuptial Agreements
  • Wallet Card, Document Binder, Fireproof Safekeeping of Documents

Intestacy (no will), Spousal Rights, Elections Against a Will, and Prenuptial Agreements

It is important to discuss these issues with your attorney. These are complicated, ever-changing areas of law. No decision should be made without consultation with an attorney. Some common questions are:

What if there is no Will? The law has a formula to distribute your assets if you do not have a Will. There are specific rules with regard to spouses concerning what they receive. There are separate statutes defining the share of a second, childless spouse.

What if a spouse does not like the Will? The law provides a spouse can elect to take a spousal share against the Will if the spouse does not agree with the Will even if the Will is valid in all other ways. This share changes depending on factors, including the existence of children and whether it was a second marriage.

Can I protect my assets with a Prenuptial Agreement? Yes. A Prenuptial Agreement can prevent a spouse from exercising normal statutory benefits. Each person planning a marriage should have separate counsel. Prenuptial Agreements are common with second marriages, especially when each individual has children from a prior marriage. Such agreements do not necessarily change the requirements to be eligible for Medicaid.

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