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Affordable Indiana Probate and Small Estates

Affordable Indiana Probate and Small Estates

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 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.  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.  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 to set up a consultation today!

Estate Planning for Sickness and Death

Estate Planning for Sickness and Death

Legal planning for death and sickness are simple projects the Goodin Abernathy team can help you prepare.  Generally, this is known as Estate Planning.  Our legal team at Goodin Abernathy regularly handles drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Representative and Health Care Directives.  Setting these up these plans will help your loved ones with legal tasks when you become sick or die.  The legal documents will apply even if you are undocumented.  They are especially helpful if you are in a common law relationship where a marriage is not legally established. 

In our Hispanic culture, the “pareja” or compañero is a common law spouse.  The couple recognizes each other as dedicated life partners.  But Indiana does not recognize this as a legally enforceable marriage.  It also affects paternity issues and the rights of children to claim assets of their father.  If the father of a child born in a pareja arrangement dies before paternity is legally established, special steps must be taken to protect the child’s legal interests.  Otherwise, the father’s property may pass to extended family other than the child or common law wife.  That is why our Legalmente Hablando Indy team helps Hispanic clients plan for protecting their family’s legal interests.

A Will is a legal document that describes your wishes for dividing assets after you die.  You will select people to represent your legal interests in court or to do business. Then you will explain how you want your property divided.  This could include transferring the title to a house or property to your spouse or other designated loved one.  The Will can describe how you want personal items and money divided between your heirs.  Establishing a Will can greatly help the distribution process after you die. 

A Power of Attorney is a legally recognized document that transfers your decision powers to the person you choose when you are medically or mentally unable to make decisions.  For instance, if you are in a COMA after an accident or unconscious due to COVID or other health complication, your legal representative can make reasonable and beneficial decisions for handling your financial affairs.  Banks, realtors and other financial companies recognize these documents.  This allows your loved ones to continue handling regular finances while you are incapacitated.  When you recover, the representative’s powers are removed and you regain control.

A Health Care Representative appointment applies when you are medically or mentally incapacitated.  Certain health laws prohibit doctors and hospitals from communicating with family members without written permission.  The Health Care Representative appointment provides your chosen person to communicate with the doctors and learn about your medical or psychological condition.  They may collect health records and make decisions for your treatment. 

 A Health Care Directive is a legally recognized document that give instructions to future healthcare providers regarding your treatment.  For instance, if medical experts agree that you will not recover from a brain injury or serious illness, then you might want to instruct them not to keep you alive on artificial support.  For many, these directions offer peace of mind their families are not burdened with attending to a body in a vegetative or non-responsive state. 

Goodin Abernathy supports our clients with estate planning information and documents.  The process is simple and offers people security their families and loved ones will be taken care during serious health events or death.  Contact us for more information and let us help you plan to protect your family. 

Estate Planning

Estate Planning

An Ounce of Simple Estate Planning Can Prevent A Pound of Legal Work

As the “Silver Wave” or “Gray Wave” segment of our aging population builds, many Gen X kids are taking on the responsibility of addressing estate planning for their parents.   Goodin Abernathy’s estate planning attorneys can support your estate planning with an easy, cost-efficient package of documents.  Our attorneys will meet with you and your loved ones to personalize the details for Wills, Powers of Attorney, appointing a Health Care Representative and drafting Living Will or Advanced Lifecare Directives. Depending on your particular needs, our estate planning packages start at Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) per person / package.    

Over the years, our Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys recognize two client tendencies typically frustrate the chances of arranging their estate planning.  First, the “there’s always tomorrow” attitude puts it off.  Of course, we hope our clients lead long, healthy lives. But the best time to plan is when you are healthy and mentally alert.  Recently a family brought in their elderly father seeking legal help for his estate planning.  Unfortunately, a dementia condition that started years ago progressed too far.  Instead of preparing simple estate planning documents, the man needed a court appointed guardian.  Of course this process requires a lot more time and costs a lot more money than preparing our estate planning packages. 

The second phenomenon preventing people from timely preventing their estate planning is the “do it yourself” kit.  The internet advertisements for estate planning offer “cheap” alternatives for handling your estate planning needs.  Unfortunately, this approach usually promotes procrastination and the project is never accomplished because it always seems easy to do “next weekend”.   Plus, let’s be honest and remember the age-old adage that “a person representing themselves has a fool for a client”.  Just contact our Goodin Abernathy attorneys and get it done the right way.  We will meet with you and take the time to evaluate your needs, explain options and suggest your best plan of action.

Basic Estate Planning Packages


A legally executed will expresses your wishes and provides instructions for handling the probate process.  Many clients understand the importance of listing specific bequests and our attorneys walk them through the best course of action for handling these instructions.  Wills may also save your heirs inheritance money by directing your personal representative on how to probate your estate. 

Power of Attorney

Often, before one dies, their mental capacity or physical health begins failing.  The Power of Attorney confers the legal authority to a designated representative.  The representative may use the authority to manage financial affairs, business decisions and other important legal tasks for the grantor if she / he are medically or legally incapacitated. 

Health Care Representative

The Health Care Representative appointment allows you to legally designate a representative to communicate with your health care providers.  Often, hospital systems and doctors are reluctant to share information or accept medical decisions if a legal health care representative is not appointed.  Establishing this directive allows your loved ones to be a part of your health care journey, know what’s going on and help make important decisions.

Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive

Indiana law recognizes and respects a person’s Living Will document.  This document states your wishes for important end of life decisions.  Frequently hospitals want to know if you have a Living Will for handling treatment in terminal situations.  You may feel relieved to know your family members will not bear the stress of making decisions about life support since your Advanced Health Care Directive will address your wishes. 

Mind you, estate planning packages are important for new families as well.  The documents provide moms and dads the security of know their children are taken care of in the event of accidental death or surprise medical conditions.  You may appoint guardians for your children and develop Trust terms for managing assets until the children are mature enough to make sound financial decisions.  Since our attorneys have helped widows and seen the devastating impact of sudden death on young kids, Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys understand how to explain important planning concepts to our younger clients as well.

Our attorney handle probate for the heirs and family members of deceased loved ones.  Estate planning is simply distinguished from probate in that it involves planning for the ultimate probate of an estate.  Legal requirements control how estates are managed and property is distributed in the “probate” process.  Start building a trusting and friendly relationship with our attorneys now.  Our professionals will share legal guidance in a comforting manner for your loved ones after you pass.   

Contact Goodin Abernathy LLP to schedule a meeting for your estate planning needs.  We provide personalized service and tailor the documents to fit your wishes.  The task does not take much time – but protects a life’s worth of effort.  Call us, we look forward to serving you today! 

Powers Of Attorney & Health Care Planning

Powers Of Attorney & Health Care Planning


The Coronavirus is disrupting medical care and our legal process. Goodin Abernathy is using the special powers granted by Governor Holcomb and the Indiana Supreme Court to assist our clients with Health Care Powers of Attorney and General Powers of Attorney documents for our Indiana clients. Since many nursing homes and hospitals prohibit visitors, the Goodin Abernathy LLP lawyers are working around those obstacles. Goodin Abernathy prepares the documents for signature using the phone, internet and text messaging with same-day service.

Online vendors offering boiler plate legal documents typically want consumers to buy subscriptions – but not at Goodin Abernathy. To us, you aren’t a consumer, you’re a client.

If your relative, loved one or friend is sequestered or quarantined, our personal service allows them to stay in place: they do not need to leave their homes or facilities. Goodin Abernathy lawyers will transmit the documents electronically and guide you through obtaining signatures in front of a notary public. Some facilities have notary public services available on site; however, if not, our staff can authorize the signatures under Indiana’s new “remote notary” plan. Using video conferencing, Indiana is allowing notaries the option of electronically witnessing signatures. Indiana’s Supreme Court Order No. 20S-MS-236 allows notaries and other persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Indiana and swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology, provided they can positively identify the witness.

Estate Planning Documents Our GA Lawyers Will Prepare Remotely

Health Care Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated mentally or physically, this document identifies a person you grant legal authority for making your health care decisions.

Living Will

If you become incapacitated, this document gives your medical care providers, loved ones and appointed Health Care Representative directions about the treatment you want. The Living Will is sometime referred to as an “Advanced Directive” or “Right-to-Die” form. Some people may not want heroic life-saving resuscitation if they are gravely ill.

General Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated, your elected representative assumes authority to make decisions and take financial action on your behalf. This could include signing checks to pay regular bills. It could also mean selling or transferring important property like your home or auto.

At Goodin Abernathy, we strive to provide:

1) Personal service with explanations of the documents you need
2) Set pricing
3) A fast response
4) Coaching for electronically transferring and signing the documents, and
5) Remote Notary service, if needed

Call us now for more information about your specific situation. We look forward to helping you!

Living Wills

In Indiana, the legislature has set-up a document that individuals may execute to inform their family and health care providers what they desire in regard to end-of-life decisions. These are called “Living Wills” and can be a part of your will and estate planning. While it is uncomfortable for most people to think about these end-of-life issues, Living Wills allow the person to make their own decision before they are in a situation where they cannot make the decision for themselves.

Recently, Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and R&B singer, Bobbi Brown, passed away after she was found unresponsive on January 31, 2015. Ms. Brown reportedly suffered “global and irreversible brain damage.” She was only 22 years-old. Tragedy can even strike young people. If Ms. Brown lived in Indiana, her Living Will could have provided guidance to her family and health care providers about her end-of-life decision surrounding her treatment and care.

Indiana also has recently adopted the Indiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) form. This is filled out between a treating physician, advanced practice nurse, or physician assistant and the patient. The purpose is to inform EMTs and other treatment providers what medical intervention the patient desires if an emergency arises. The POST form is used by patients and their health care providers when the patient has a medical condition that is very serious or terminal. This document provides even more guidance to health professionals.

Goodin Abernathy, LLP can assist you in the creation of your Living Will along with your entire estate portfolio. Contact us today to discuss your estate planning needs.