Wills, Trusts & Estates

What documents do I need for my estate plan?

In order to complete an estate plan you should examine at least (6) documents:
  • Will
  • Living Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Appointment
  • Living Tust
  • Funeral Planning Declaration
These documents are briefly described below:


A will is a legal statement of your intentions regarding the distribution of your assets after your death. It provides for the appointment of a person to conclude your final affairs according to your directions. A will also states your intention in regards to burial, guardianship of children and other matters of importance to you.

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document that allows you to express your intent regarding your dying process. You may express your intent that your dying NOT be prolonged artificially. It can provide for the administration of drugs or treatment which will provide for your comfort and alleviate your pain. You may also make a determination as to whether you will receive food and water intravenously or through feeding tubes.

A Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to avoid Guardianship if you become disabled and unable to act for yourself. It may provide for the administration of your needs including business affairs, health care decisions, family affairs, taxes and other important concerns of yours.

Health Care Representative Appointment

It is a specialized power of appointment. It specifically appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and can not make those decisions for yourself.

Living Trusts

A Living Trust is an agreement to manage property. It names a person to manage your property. It also names the people who will enjoy the benefit of your property, both before and after your death.

Funeral Planning Declaration

A Funeral Planning Declaration states your intentions regarding your funeral and burial. Your designee, a person choosen by you, is required to carry out your instructions.

What are the biggest Estate Planning failures?

  • Failure to plan for loved ones.
  • Failure to plan death taxes and expenses.
  • Failure to plan for health care decisions.
  • Failure to pre-plan funeral arrangements.
  • Failure to have a Will or the failure to update a Will.
  • Creating joint tenancies with children.
  • Failure to discuss your plans with your family
  • Failure to name someone to manage your assets if you are incapacitated.
  • Failure to consider a Living Trust.

What should I do now?

  • Decide on a person to handle your final affairs and a person to manage your assets when you are unable to do so.
  • Inventory your assets.
  • Decide on the distribution of your assets after your death.
  • Prepare and execute your estate plan.
  • Inform your family of your decisions.
  • Call us for further information. Our phone number is (219) 972-6000.

Benefits of a Living Trust:

  • Avoids probate for all assets and property transferred into the Trust
  • Allows you, as Trustee, to manage and have total control over the assets of the Trust during your life.
  • Conviently allows you, for any reason, to delegate the day-to-day operations of your Trust to someone else.
  • Creates a prompt, efficient, and economical method to distribute your assets after death.
  • Protects against guardianship proceedings if you become legally incapacitated.
  • Reduces the risk of a will contest and expensive court challenges to your estate plan.
  • Protects the details of your personal estate plan from being open to the public upon your incapacity or death.
  • Permits you to easily change it if you wish.
  • Moves with you, should you change your residence to another state.

Should everyone have a Living Trust?

No, a Living Trust requires that your property be transferred out of your name. This action may be a disadvantage in certain situations. Always consult an attorney before executing legal documents. Only property transferred into the Trust will be controlled by it and you, or your successor, must be able to prove the transfer has been completed.

Professional Advice Required

The complexities of the law regarding taxation and the transfer of assets require the use of trained legal professionals. The information contained on this page IS NOT a substitute for legal advice. Contact us for more information.