Jamestown, IN asked in Probate for Indiana

Q: Father passed away in 2011, my mother was sole beneficiary. All assets were jointly held. His estate was not probated.

There have bee zero issues, but could any arise at her death?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Howell, MI

A: If ALL the property was in joint name, then no, there won't be problems because you didn't probate your father's estate. HOWEVER, what happens after your mother passes is another question. SHE should have an appropriate estate plan in place now more than ever to insure things go smoothly for YOU (and any siblings and anyone else she might want to include in her plans) and even more importantly put in place documents to insure there is a 'legal' option for someone to speak for her should she be unable to make decisions because of age or infirmity before she passes.

Your mom should talk with a local estate planning attorney to insure her wishes are properly structured!

-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney/client relationship.

I am licensed to practice in Michigan only. Please seek competent local legal help if you feel you need legal advice

Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Valparaiso, IN
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: Without knowing all of the details, it is hard to say. As far as your father's estate goes, if your mother received all of the property through rights of survivorship there should be no problem for her.

That said, there most definitely could be problems for you and your family once your mother passes if your mother does not have an estate plan drawn up. Often times when one spouse dies, there is no problem re-titling the assets due to the fact that most of their property is jointly held. This will not be the case when your mother passes away. If she does not have a valid will drawn up ahead of time, her property will pass according to state law, not her wishes. Furthermore, this will have to be done through the probate process, which can be slow and expensive and oftentimes requires the hiring of an attorney.

Consult with a local estate planning attorney in your area. He or she can help your mother put together an estate plan. That typically includes a last will and testament, a living will, a healthcare power of attorney appointment, funeral directive, and sometimes other documents. This can also include more advanced estate planning instruments like a revocable living will which is commonly used to avoid probate.

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