Estate planning

At Fletcher Van Gilder LLP we pride ourselves on being both affordable and effective in our approach to all legal issues, including wills and trust drafting. Andrew Simmons helps individuals and families with their estate planning and probate administration needs.

Our law firm excels in a hands-on approach to dealing with our clients. We explain each step as we go along. We listen to our clients’ needs and concerns, we prepare and review all documents to protect their best interests, and we act with honesty and integrity at all times.

Here are some estate planning and probate services we provide:

  • Draft last wills and testaments, trusts, powers of attorney, child medical consent, health care directives and living wills
  • Act as guardians for vulnerable adults, veterans and for children or draft guardianship agreements for the same
  • Draft succession agreements for family-owned businesses
  • Litigation of disputed wills, trusts and other estate contests
  • Act as probate administrator to settle an estate
  • We tailor estate plans to meet our clients’ specific needs. When you come to our office, we will discuss your personal and financial situation. We will explain the estate planning options available and help you choose the type of document — will, trust, power of attorney, living will — that best fits your situation.

Protecting and preserving your life’s work

Planning for your future is one of the most important things you can do. Although it may be impossible to predict what lies ahead, a well-constructed estate plan will give you certainty as to what may happen to you, and to your estate. Through the creation of a will or trust, you can assure that your property and assets are protected and preserved according to your exact specifications. At Fletcher Van Gilder LLP our estate planning attorneys have assisted individuals and families create affordable and effective plans that suit their unique circumstances.

Print and complete our Estate Planning Questionnaire (pdf).

One of the most valuable gifts you can bestow upon your loved ones is a properly devised estate plan. To speak with one of our attorneys about how we can help you plan for your future, contact us to schedule an appointment.

We offer clients several estate planning tools to help develop a plan to best suit their needs:

  • Wills
  • Living wills
  • Trusts
  • Powers of attorney
  • Health care directives
  • Guardianships
  • Succession agreements for family businesses

It is crucial that you make arrangements for your health and medical decisions. By taking time to thoroughly outline your wishes in a health care directive, you are providing your loved ones with a sense of security and peace of mind.

A recent change in Indiana law has important consequences for parents with minor children. In summary, even if you have chosen a guardian for your children, it can take up to two months for your wishes to be put into action. For this reason, under the new law you must appoint an interim guardian to ensure your children are being cared for by whom you choose.

Please contact us so we might explain your estate planning options and help you develop a plan that works best for you. We’ll work to explain your options as we help you ensure a future that is secure and protected. Call one of our Fort Wayne estate planning lawyers at 260-425-9777 to set up a consultation.

Many people have a limited understanding of estate planning and administration. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Estate planning FAQs

Question: Do I need a will?
Answer: A will is a written document expressing an individual’s desire for controlling the transfer of their property after death. A will is recommended for several reasons. Besides providing for distribution of your property, a will allows for the following:

  • Choice of a personal representative to administer your estate
  • Choice of a guardian for a minor in case of the death or disability of both parents
  • Trust provisions to manage and provide income for survivors, typically minors
  • Charitable provisions

Question: What happens if I die without a will?
Answer: If an individual dies without executing a will, the Indiana Intestacy statute is controlling. This statute provides surviving spouses, children, parents, and other family members with specific shares of your estate. Consult with a lawyer for the further explanation.

Question: What happens if I die with a will?
Answer: A personal representative makes sure the wishes expressed in a will are properly carried out. Due to the nature of the duties listed below, the assistance of an attorney for a personal representative is generally required. The duties of a personal representative include:

  • Have the will probated with the court
  • Marshal (gather together) the assets of the estate
  • Establish the value of all assets as of the date of death and file an inventory with the court
  • Handle claims against the estate
  • File income tax returns for periods before and after death
  • Prepare a final accounting covering the principal, income and disbursements of the estate
  • Distribute assets of the estate, including specific bequests.

Question: What is a “living will”?
Answer: A living will, also known as advance directives, is a written document providing instructions for an individual’s care in the event of a terminal illness or “persistent vegetative state”. It allows adults (ages 18 and over) to execute written instructions regarding whether to withhold or maintain life-prolonging procedures such as artificial nutrition or hydration. A copy of the living will is provided to the individual’s primary physician and with a health care representative or family member who was given authority to make health care decisions.

Question: How often do I need to update my will?
Answer: Once properly executed, a will does not expire. However, it is recommended that wills be updated after life-changing events such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child.

Accessing the information on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.

The materials and information on this website are made available by Fletcher Van Gilder LLP for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The transmission and receipt of information on the web site do not form or constitute an attorney-client relationship. This includes, but is not limited to, using the link on this website to solicit information from Fletcher Van Gilder LLP. Persons accessing the information on this website should not act upon the information provided without seeking professional legal counsel.

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