When a loved one dies, their Indiana assets and properties must be dealt with accordingly. If you have been appointed executor for a family member’s estate, you may discover that the process is a little daunting. But even during grieving, you must make sound decisions regarding property distribution.
If you are unfamiliar with the probate process, you may wonder how it works in Indiana. This blog will discuss everything you need to know about the probate process and its laws and processes in Indiana.
If you need further help understanding Indiana probate laws, contact the law office of Applegate & Dillman Elder Law for assistance. Our Indianapolis probate attorneys will guide you through the steps you should take to protect those you love, whether they are your parents or other elderly family members.
What is Probate, and Why is it Necessary?
Probate is a court-supervised process of handling a dead person’s affairs in an organized manner. Indiana has specific laws and statutes that must be followed when handling estates. The court will make decisions for the administration of an estate per Indiana statute for estates worth over $50,000.
When a person dies, survivors should do some things, including obtaining a death certificate, arranging a funeral, and determining what to do with the deceased’s properties, assets, and finances. And this is where the probate process comes into play. Even if family members and relatives are entitled to a portion of the estate, they can’t just descend on the assets, take what was left behind, or ignore the matters the deceased left unresolved.
The primary purpose of the probate process is to ensure that the deceased’s estate settles all its taxes and debts before distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries. The probate court also referred to as superior law, will freeze an estate to ensure it does change hands until any outstanding issues have been addressed. Sometimes heirs have to be selected and their portions of the assets established.
When the deceased person (decedent) leaves a will, the superior court checks its validity and challenges the will as required. The probate court recognizes a personal representative or executor named in the will or selects one if no will has been created or named an executor.
Legal advice from an Indianapolis probate lawyer will help you create a clear will. It will also allow you to learn how your estate plan could eventually function during estate planning. In addition, legal counsel allows you to plan for probate court expenses and name a personal representative and contingent beneficiaries.
Indiana Probate Laws
Indiana probate laws give authority over a deceased person’s estate to a close relative or other trusted entity, otherwise known as a personal representative. A typical probate process takes about six months and starts by presenting a death certificate to the probate court. The Indiana probate process involves various steps, including:
- Filing the will with the applicable court
- The court validates the will
- The estate’s responsibility is officially assigned to the executor or personal representative.
- The executor will identify the estate’s creditors and beneficiaries
- Creating an inventory of all the assets to be probated and calculating their market value
- The executor pays debts, taxes, and court expenses
- The executor administers the estate
What Assets Pass Through Probate?
Assets requiring Probate in Indiana are listed under the decedent’s name alone. For example, a property titled solely in the decedent’s name must go through Probate to be retitled. Subsequently, bank or investment accounts that are not owned jointly and have no identified beneficiary would need to pass through Probate. Some assets, though, won’t go through probate, including:
- Property or assets held in joint tenancy
- Beneficiary designations
- Assets listed in transfer-on-death for,
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance proceeds
- Living trust assets
- Payable-on-death bank accounts
- Community property with right of survivorship
A court-appointed executor has the legal authority to manage and distribute an estate through Probate. The two major types of probate administration in Indiana are supervised and unsupervised processes.
Unsupervised Administration in Indiana
The main difference between supervised and unsupervised estate administration is the length of the probate court’s intervention. Unsupervised estate administration is the most straightforward and is suitable where:
- The estate is solvent.
- The will or beneficiaries authorize it, and everyone who stands to inherit agrees to the unsupervised administration process.
Supervised Administration in Indiana
This type of administration is ideal when the probate court must be involved in the process. Supervised administration is often required when an estate is not solvent, or some disputes need the court’s guidance. You may opt for supervised administration if:
- There is no will, and heirs are not identified
- The estate’s beneficiaries are conflicting with each other
- The estate has assets and properties that are difficult to value and sell
- The will is unclear
Supervised estate administration often requires extensive paperwork, and cases are more complicated. Thus, we recommend working with an experienced Indianapolis probate attorney. Most probate attorneys are experienced in dealing with complex processes and can help you understand your options and responsibilities in the probate process.
How our Indianapolis Probate Attorneys Can Help
If you live in Indianapolis, IN, and have been named as an executor and need assistance handling the probate process, the legal team at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law can help. Our Indianapolis Probate Attorneys have helped hundreds of Indianapolis residents get through the probate process. We can guide you through every step of your probate process and ensure you understand your roles as an administrator.
Let our probate attorneys, Carol Applegate and Lisa Dillman, help you protect the wealth of your loved ones with advocacy and compassion.