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I have a Last Will and Testament from forty (40) years ago. Should I update it?

An individual’s original estate planning purposes may be different today than many years ago. For instance, many estate planning attorneys in years past drafted estate plans in order for their clients to maximize estate tax savings. Due to legislation, estate tax planning is not usually a primary focus of estate planners.

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If something happened to me, someone will need to take care of my children. How do I name a guardian for my children?

This question is the main reason why young married couples enter the office of an estate planning attorney. The greatest concern for these clients is often not related to the efficient distribution of their wealth to the next generation. Rather, the greatest concern for young married couples is often the question of whom will care for their children if something traumatic should prevent both parents from caring for them. In fact, when a married couple has their first child, such is the opportune time to their first will.

It is critical that parents of minor children name an individual to serve as Guardian of their children in their last will and testaments. When both parents have deceased or are unable to care for their children, a probate court will look to the parents’ last will and testament in deciding whom shall serve as Guardian. Without the parents’ input through their last will and testament, the probate court may only have the opinion of self-interested family and friends to consider the question. Obviously, the most important opinion is that of the parents. Clients with young children do not want to leave the question up to anybody else than themselves.

I have been married more than once. How should I plan the inheritance for my spouse, children and stepchildren?

Sometimes clients desire that stepchildren be treated no differently van the clients biological children. Other clients sometimes want only their children to receive their property. Thus, to answer this question it is necessary for the estate planning attorney to understand the family dynamics. Further, it is important for the client to understand the legal presumptions regarding stepchildren. While this blog post cannot address particular family dynamics, it can address the treatment of second marriages and stepchildren according to Indiana law.

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