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The Indiana probate process manages asset distribution after a person dies.  Contact the estate planning and probate attorneys at Goodin Abernathy LLP to learn about the inexpensive legal services we offer our clients. 

You may be tasked with winding up the financial, real estate and vehicle interests of a deceased person.  Our probate attorneys realize not all Indiana residents die rich, and that many people die with assets totaling less than One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).  But what they do leave behind is precious to their families and friends.  Avoid spending money on high-priced probate legal services that make the process too complex.  Take a minute to contact us to learn about cost effective options. 

This article generally describes legal considerations for representatives handling estates valued at $100,000.00 or less.  If an Indiana resident died after June 20, 2022, their estate may qualify for using the Small Estate option.  Here is a simple review of the important phrases and options for Indiana residents handling small estates.

Probate

Probate is the legal process used to administer a deceased person’s estate.  An “estate” includes their assets and debts.  Probate includes addressing debts like mortgages, credit card balances, medical bills and taxes.  The process is regulated to protect the interests of legally interested beneficiaries.

You will hear the term “decedent” used for the deceased person. The probate process applies to decedents who die with and without wills.  Typically wills identify legal beneficiaries to whom the decedent wished to transfer their assets and gifts.  When people die without wills, then Indiana’s intestate (without a will) process applies to the probate process.  The intestate process uses Indiana law to determine how any estate assets are divided between legally recognized family members.  

In Indiana, the executor, administrator or “personal representative” refers to the person(s) charged with handling the probate process for a decedent’s estate.  It is an important job that carries significant responsibility.  An executor needs to make sure everything is done legally, correctly and fairly.  Goodin Abernathy’s experienced attorneys enjoy keeping your probate project simple and easily understandable.  Our goal is to support your needs with a personal touch and provide reasonably priced legal service.

Small Estate

Indiana law provides a cost-effective option for beneficiaries tasked with handling estates that are valued under $100,000.00.  https://codes.findlaw.com/in/title-29-probate/in-code-sect-29-1-8-1/  Recognized as the Small Estate, Indiana law does away with the need for opening a complex probate action in court.  It offers non-attorney forms recognized by financial institutions, the BMV and real estate companies.  Here is an example of a Small Estate Affidavit and Order that is recognized in Morgan County Indiana.  https://morgancounty.in.gov/egov/documents/1658176398_56456.pdf  Many other Indiana counties offer links to similar forms you can find on the internet. 

Frequently, our probate attorneys handle questions about small estates.  Depending on your needs, our probate team enjoys offering single consultations or ongoing legal support to manage the small estate process.  Though the small estate process is intended to make things easy, we know that does not always happen.  Banks, the county Recorder’s Office or even the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) may require information and forms that are not always easy to create.  If you run into questions about the Small Estate process, contact us for consultations and exploring a limited level of legal services that support your needs while maintaining a reasonable budget.              

Examples of Probate Legal Services For Small Estates

Though easier and more streamlined than using courts for supervised and unsupervised probate cases, managing small estates still requires time and effort.  The process typically involves more than filling out a simple form.  Our team is sensitive to the burdens clients face when taking on the responsibility of winding up a decedent’s legal affairs.  Instead of paying high hourly rates for firms that only focus on probate legal work, contact us to learn about other options. 

The Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys and paralegals will take on the extra work it takes for processing required by the banks to distribute money to the legal heirs.  We often visit banks with our clients to answer their questions, supply necessary documentation and fill out forms to successfully distribute proceeds. 

The Indiana BMV uses various forms for different types of vehicle transfers and registration.  Goodin Abernathy’s attorneys will help you identify and populate the BMV forms so you can re-title a vehicle.  Depending on the BMV branch or even visiting with staff in the branch, you might encounter different questions and requests.  We will schedule appointments and even go to the BMV with you to work through their process.   

Taxes are always an issue.  Both the State of Indiana and federal government are interested in collecting their taxes.  Work with Goodin Abernathy’s legal team to organize documents and supply tax preparers with the information they need to complete the required returns.   

Real estate transfers use special forms.  For instance, you might want to sell the decedent’s house and divide the proceeds between heirs.  To do so, you will need a new deed and paperwork for the transaction.  The deed must be filed with the County Recorder’s office.  Realtors and title companies will need forms showing you have the legal authority to complete the transaction.  Our attorneys communicate directly with the title companies and supply them with the materials they need.  To make sure documents are registered correctly, we also take the deed and registration documents to the county Assessor and Recorder to re-title a house if an heir intends to maintain ownership. 

Goodin Abernathy LLP’s attorneys are sensitive to the emotions mixed in with managing the probate process.  Whether you have a Small Estate or a full probate project, contact our team to learn about the affordable legal services we offer.  Let us help you wrap up your loved one’s estate and legal affairs.  Call (317)843-2606 or e-mail jbrowne@goodinabernathy.com to set up a consultation today!