Indianapolis Estate
Planning Attorneys

Even the words “estate law” can cause anxiety in many people. While almost everyone believes that it is important to have a clear estate plan in place, it is something that is oftentimes put off until it is too late. Do you and your loved ones know what will happen should life’s most tragic circumstances arise?

Law books on shelf with labels for legal learning trust and estate planning
Legal and estate planning documents

Bernhardt Phillips estate and elder law attorneys will answer all your questions and ensure your final wishes are fulfilled should unfortunate circumstances occur. Our attorneys provide compassionate, comprehensive advice to clients in Indianapolis, and throughout Indiana. Our practice areas include wills, trusts, power of attorney (POA) documents, and probate matters.  The attorneys at Bernhardt Phillips work with you side-by-side to ensure your estate planning documents accurately reflect your most important wishes should unfortunate circumstances occur. It is never too early or too late to speak with the attorneys at Bernhardt Phillips about your options. 

Additional Information Regarding Estate Law

Last Will and Testament

The Last Will and Testament is the foundation of an estate plan and will address all the major issues and decisions that arise when someone passes away. While almost everyone has heard of a Last Will and Testament, commonly referred to as a “will,” few actually have a current, valid will. Whether that is because their will was done 25 years ago, or because they had a major life event occur since the last time they looked at their will, many people could benefit from consulting with an attorney to see what a new Last Will and Testament would do for them. If you are considering getting a new will, then consult with your local estate planning attorney at Bernhardt Phillips.

Components of a Last Will and Testament

Bill Payment. A Last Will and Testament needs to address a decedent’s debts. What bills are going to be paid? How are they going to be paid? These are important questions, which are addressed in a will. 

Personal Property. A Last Will and Testament needs to address what happens to a decedent’s personal property, such as furniture, jewelry, bank accounts, and all other items of property owned by an individual. Who gets what property? Do the beneficiaries get to choose items themselves or do they get specific items? Does everything go to auction? A will answers all these questions regarding personal property. 

Residual Estate. The Last Will and Testament needs to address what happens with everything else that is not, or was not, previously addressed in the will. How is this property shared between someone’s beneficiaries? 

Personal Representative. Often referred to as the executor, the Personal Representative is the individual chosen by a decedent in their will to administer their estate. This is the person responsible for taking the will to an attorney to open the estate. The personal representative will need to open a bank account for the estate, and then gather all the property in the estate. Ultimately, the personal representative will distribute the property in the estate to the beneficiaries according to the Last Will and Testament. 

Contact the estate planning attorneys at Bernhardt Phillips today for a free consultation to discuss your Last Will and Testament. 

General Durable Power of Attorney

A General Durable Power of Attorney is used for an individual to designate an attorney-in-fact to perform transactions on their behalf in certain circumstances, such as unavailability or incapacitation. This important document would allow a trusted individual to have the authority to continue to pay bills, or otherwise manage an individual’s affairs in the event they are unable to do so themselves, while that individual is alive. The last part of that is extremely important. A General Durable Power of Attorney is only valid while someone is alive. Once someone passes away a power of attorney will cease to be valid, and the person appointed as a personal representative will have the authority to administer the individual’s estate. Indiana Code 30-5-5 lists out all the powers someone can give to an attorney-in-fact through their power of attorney; these include, but are not limited to, the authority to transfer real estate, the authority to make banking transactions, the authority to make business decisions, and many more. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney prior to executing such an important document. Call the attorneys at Bernhardt Phillips today to discuss your General Durable Power of Attorney. 


Cannot Travel?

Bernhardt Phillips will come to you to ensure your estate planning documents are drafted, signed and executed according to Indiana law.