Probate & Trust Administration
When an individual passes away without an estate plan, or even if the decedent had a valid will, in most cases his or her assets cannot be distributed until the estate goes through a process known as probate. Unfortunately, the probate process in Indiana is often time-consuming, frustrating, and needlessly expensive. Probate costs include court filing fees, notification fees, and fees of the executor and attorney. The average cost to probate an estate is between 4%-11% of the estate’s value. Supervised administration is more costly than unsupervised administration.
At Applegate and Dillman Elder Law, we create comprehensive plans designed to help families avoid the Indiana probate process entirely. Of course, we also guide families through the process if they find themselves facing the probate court. We understand what you are going through during this difficult time, and can assist you with every aspect of the process, including:
- Filing a petition with the probate court
- Notifying heirs named in the will or, if there is no will, to statutory heirs
- Petitioning to appoint an Executor (if there is a will) or an Administrator
- Making an inventory and appraisal of all estate assets
- Paying estate debt to creditors
- Selling estate assets
- Paying estate taxes
- Final distribution of assets to heirs
It is important to note that if an individual in Indiana has total estate assets of less than $50,000.00, state law allows the will (or an estate with no will) to be administered without court involvement. Still, it is best to seek legal counsel to determine the proper heirs, creditors, and what entities need to be paid from the estate, and in what order. In situations such as these, we can create a small estate affidavit to transfer assets 45 days after death.
It’s hard enough to lose a loved one without the added stress of having to make important financial decisions that can impact your family for years. If you have been asked to administer a trust, you should know that if the trust assets are improperly accounted for, the trustee can be held personally liable. Cost reduction and tax minimization strategies might also be overlooked. There could even be family infighting over exactly “who gets what” and whether all laws have been followed. The result can be litigation, costly delays, and devastating financial consequences for heirs and the person appointed to administer the trust.
At Applegate and Dillman Elder Law, we advise you of the risks of choosing to serve as trustee. We can guide you through every step of the process if you decide to serve, or recommend the appropriate person to serve on your behalf. You are not alone during this difficult time, we are here to assist you. Contact us today to discuss your particular concerns and goals.