Tag Archives: Probate

The Power of Attorney

People often mistakenly believe that the only way they may be able to make important decisions for their loved ones when a loved one becomes incapacitated is if they are their spouse.  This is categorically untrue and much of it stems from uninformed statements collaborated by influential outlets.  Whether you’re married, divorced, single, widowed or have a long-term significant other, you may designate that person as your attorney-in-fact at any time.  The medium by which you accomplish this is the Power of Attorney.

Generally, the Power of Attorney comes in two forms: 1) a Durable Power of Attorney and 2) a Health Care Power of Attorney (or Advanced Health Care Directives.)  Both serve different purposes, and will be explained further below.  Before giving a brief explanation of the two, however, it is important to note that these documents are generally drafted with your Last Will and Testament, a document that all individuals should strongly consider having (see earlier blog post).

The Durable Power of Attorney

The DPOA is a document that appoints an individual as attorney-in-fact over your financial affairs.  Under Indiana law, a DPOA can include the following specific powers:

real property transactions; tangible personal property transactions; bond, share and commodity transactions; retirement plans; banking transactions; business operating transactions; insurance transactions; transfer or payable on death transfers; beneficiary transactions; gift transactions; fiduciary transactions; claims and litigation; family maintenance; benefits from military service; records, reports and statements; and estate transactions.

Furthermore, the DPOA includes a grant of broad powers pursuant to IC 30-5-5-19.  This allows the DPOA to essentially handle all of your matters for you, in the event that you become incapacitated.

This document is paramount to your financial well-being in the event that you become incapacitated.  If you fail to have a Power of Attorney, your family will find themselves in a situation in which they must petition the court for a guardianship over you and your financial matters.  These can often be strung out and expensive, and financial matters may not be handled as quickly as they need be handled.  The added stress of this situation can all be alleviated by simply planning ahead with an estate plan and power of attorney.

Health Care Power of Attorney

The Health Care Power of Attorney gives authority to an individual to make important medical decisions in the event that you become incapacitated.  The power authorized by IC 30-5-5-16 include:

To employ or contract with servants, companions or health care providers to care for you; To consent or to refuse health care for you; To admit or release you from a hospital or health care facility; To have access to records, including medical records, concerning your condition; To make anatomical gifts on your behalf; To request an autopsy; and To make plans for the disposition of your body.

This is a rather morbid topic, however, planning for this can relieve a great amount of stress and weight from your family’s shoulders.  This simple document can allow an individual to make decisions tantamount to your health, that otherwise may not be available to that individual.  This is a subject you must discuss with your attorney-in-fact for your advance health care directives, and be clear about what you want done.

There really is no reason to put these planning documents off.  Every day they are put off, which happens all too often, is another day you risk not having a decision-maker in place for you in the event that you become incapacitated.



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The Importance of Estate Planning

Planning your estate is all too often put off and set on the back burner while other obligations are tended to.  This perilous decision has many times led to disastrous estate administration that burdens beneficiaries with fees, administrative duties and drawn-out emotional stress.  A simple will can relieve this burden immediately and allow for you to have peace of mind regarding the distribution of your estate once you have passed.  The Urberg Law Office provides carefully tailored estate plans that address each individual’s and family’s unique situation and financial circumstances, all while taking into consideration cost-effectiveness.  Here are a few reasons why you should ask us to handle your estate planning objectives.

But hiring an attorney to draft my estate plan will cost too much!

The costs of drafting an estate plan with The Urberg Law Office are almost always less than passing without a plan in place.  The costs of probate without a testamentary device often highly outweigh the costs of probate with a testamentary device.  The reasons for this are several, but mainly it is due to the fact that a testamentary device will streamline the process, allowing for quicker distribution of assets, and less attorney’s fees and court costs.

That’s fine, but I don’t have any assets that will pass through probate.

This is often used as an excuse by many individuals who have their assets tied up in retirement plans, life insurance, or other assets that have named beneficiaries.  These do not, however, cover numerous situations that an estate plan can cover.  Often times individuals will name their spouse as their sole-beneficiary and lose out on the advantages of an estate plan if they both pass simultaneously in a car crash or other catastrophic event.  If this occurs, and the named beneficiary cannot be paid, all assets enter the estate of the individual and pass through probate.  If the assets are substantial, expect a number of challenges from descendants.  Furthermore, the State of Indiana will follow its intestate procedure and distribute all property through the intestacy distribution scheme, leaving you without any control over what property goes where.

Even so, I don’t have much to my name, so what is the point?

Don’t be mistaken by the misconception that only the wealthy need an estate plan.  If you have  minor children in your life, it is absolutely necessary to have a plan for your children upon your death.  Specifically, you will want to have the power to appoint a guardian that you know and trust will take good care of your children.  The designation of a guardian is crucial when minor children are involved.  In the event of the death of both parents, a court may appoint a suitable person to serve as a guardian for any minor children, who will be responsible for their care and upbringing.  With a Will, you may designate this person instead of leaving it to the Court.  We can also put in place a plan that includes a contingent trust that helps fund your child’s living expenses and college tuition.

I already have an estate plan, so I’m good right?

Wrong.  If you fail to review and update your estate plan often, it can become out-of-date and potentially fail its purposes.  For instance, have you had a new child?  Married a new spouse?  Divorced?  Won the Powerball (wishful thinking)?  These are all reasons to review and update your estate plan, and its only the beginning of the mountain of reasons to do so.

Is there anything else I should know?

Each individual’s circumstances are entirely unique.  For that reason, the answer is yes, there are millions of things you should know!  If you have any question about your estate plan, you should call The Urberg Law Office at 260-456-9988.  We will walk you through the options that you have at your disposal and provide you a free consult regarding your individual estate plan. 



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