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What Is Estate Planning Law?

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An estate is defined as the real and personal property a specific person owned at the time of their death. Once the death has occurred, the property needs to be transferred. Usually, people have some ideas of where they’d like it to go, but it can be a complicated legal transaction. Planning for the estate to be transferred involves not only the emotional work but understanding the legal ramifications of an estate and the regulations that dictate the transference.

What Is Included In an Estate?

An estate is comprised of the assets left after the estate owner has passed away. That can include real estate (land and buildings), personal property (vehicles, jewelry, and other personal assets), stocks, bank accounts, other financial assets, and anything else that can be transferred. The estate becomes part of an inheritance when someone dies, and someone else becomes eligible to own these assets.

How Does Inheritance Work?

Someone inherits some or all of an estate depending on various legal reasons. If the estate had an estate plan and properly drawn-up will, those documents will be at the forefront of asset distribution. Sometimes a person dies intestate, which means they did not have a valid will at the time of their death. Being intestate can lead to the inheritors of the estate needing to go to court to determine how the assets will be distributed.

What Is an Advance Directive? Is It Part of Estate Planning?

An advanced directive can be part of estate planning. This type of legal document specifies what the person wants to be done or not done in terms of medical treatment if the person becomes unable to express their wishes directly. It can be done as a living will or as a durable power of attorney, the latter being a legally designated representative of the patient who can express those wishes when the patient cannot.

What Is Probate Court?

Probate court is involved in legally transferring property of an estate after the estate owner’s death. When an estate has a legally sound estate plan drawn up, complete with legally valid wills, probate can be avoided or at least be shortened. When the entire estate goes to probate, it can take months or even years to resolve and can be quite expensive.

Let Us Advise You

If you’re interested in learning more about estate planning law and how your estate can best prepare for the future, call 317-663-9190 for an appointment with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.


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