Here is a situation where you may not even need a will.
Hi, it’s Guy DiMartino. I’m in Northwest Indiana estate planning or probate lawyer. If you ever have any questions about an Indiana estate plan, you can always set an appointment with me either by phone, come in person, or we can do something by video conference. You can just go to indianaestatemeeting.com and you can choose the time that works for you.
These videos come from fact scenarios and situations that I’ve had or been questioned about. I was recently confronted with a situation where, you know, the question was, do I even need a will? And most people would think yeah, I do need a will. But, there was at least one situation where a will was not needed. This means you will not need to go through the cost and expense of getting a will prepared because there are no assets that would need to go through probate.
I met with an older gentleman. This guy was receiving a pension and social security. The questions that I asked were as follows:
- Do you own a vehicle? The answer was no. I don’t own a vehicle. I don’t drive anymore.
- Do you own a home? No, I got rid of my home a number of years ago. I live in an apartment.
- Do you have a bank account? Yes, I have multiple bank accounts.
- Do you have beneficiary designations on the bank accounts? Yes, I do have beneficiary designations on the bank account.
- Do you receive a pension? Yes, I receive a pension
- Does the pension stop at your death? Yes, the pension stops at my death.
- Do you have any retirement accounts? Yes, I have a retirement account with Merrill Lynch.
- Do you have a beneficiary designation on the retirement account? Yes, I have a beneficiary designation on the retirement account.
- Do you have any other property? No, I don’t have any other property.
Well, in this situation, this person really didn’t need a will. If he doesn’t want to go through the expense of getting a will prepared that is fine because he doesn’t have any assets that will to be probated. All of his remaining assets will transfer to his loved ones by contract or beneficiary designation. The bank accounts will be payable at death, the retirement of funds, if there are any left, we pay paid at death, and his pension stops at death.
So why go through the rigmarole of having to put together a will? And I explained to the person, well, you really don’t have to, but the only concern that I would have would be that maybe there’s something out there that you’re not thinking about today that might need to go through the probate process.
The guy said, well, I have two children. And if I did something in a will, I would want it to my stuff to go equally to my children. And I said, well, if something’s going to have to go through probate anyway and you have two children and no surviving spouse, then it would go by the laws of intestacy in the state of Indiana. And so, your kids are going to get half each anyway. I said, I see your point. I agreed with the guy that in this fact scenario that this guy probably did not need a will.
This is sort of the analysis that you might want to go through when you’re thinking about what type of estate plan you need. You know, because you don’t need a will, doesn’t mean that you don’t need a power of attorney to handle issues or health care proxy or healthcare directive. An estate plan is much more than death planning, a healthcare directive and power of attorney is there is assist you when you are living.