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If you don't have a will yet, you are in good company. 60% of American adults do not have a will or living trust. But don't worry, creating a will is easier than it has ever been. You can get started using free resources from the Pulaski County Public Library.

Is it really that easy? For many individuals, it can be. But remember, depending upon your circumstances, estate planning can be a complex process, and for individuals who have a more complicated estate, consulting a professional is always the best idea. At this time, legal and financial professionals are considered essential, so you should be able to find a professional if you need to. 

Disclaimer: None of this information constitutes legal, financial, or other professional advice. You should consult your professional advisor for legal, financial, or other advice.  All the following information is subject to various circumstances, conditions and exceptions and a person should consult with an attorney before acting upon this information.

Some basics

A will is a written document that allows you to designate:

  • who will receive your estate after you die
  • who will raise your children if you die while they're still minors and your spouse is unavailable to care for them
  • whether your beneficiaries receive their inheritance outright or in a trust
  • and who will serve as your personal representative – that is, the person who will pay your bills and taxes and distribute the rest of your estate to your beneficiaries.

Why do I need a will?

If you do not have a will at the time of your death, the state will make determinations about who will inherit your property, and who will care for your dependents.

Many individuals prefer not to leave these important decisions to the state.

Who can write a will?

Any person who is of sound mind and at least eighteen (18) years old can write a will. The person must freely and voluntarily make the will, and not be under any pressure to make the will.

Does the will need to be written?

Wills must be in writing before a person dies to be legally valid. In some cases, a person who is about to die may make a valid unwritten will that gives personal property (not land) of less than one thousand ($1,000) dollars. You must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses, and the witnesses must also sign the will.

What happens to my property if I die without a will?

If you die without a will, Indiana law will say how your property is given away. Below are some examples of how your property will be given away if you die without a will. The following list only provides general rules. There may be exceptions. 

  • Unmarried with no children. If you are not married and have no children, your living parents, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces will divide your property. 
  • Unmarried with children. If you are not married and have children, your children and/or grandchildren will divide your property. 
  • Married with no children. If you are married, have no children and have no living parents, your husband or wife will receive all of your property. However, if at least one of your parents is alive when you die, your husband or wife will receive three-fourths (3/4) of your property and your parent(s) will share one-fourth (1/4) of your property. 
  • Married with children from the marriage. If you are married and have children, your husband or wife will receive one-half (1/2) of your property. Your children will receive shares of the remaining one-half (1/2) of your property.

How can I revoke a will?

A will can be revoked if you destroy your will with the purpose of canceling it. You can also revoke an old will by making a new will. A divorce automatically revokes any portions of a will that relate to your ex-spouse. Any changes to a will must be in writing and follow the rules that make a will legally valid.

Where can I find more information?

If you would like to have an attorney write your will, a list of local attorneys is available in a telephone directory.

The Wabash Valley Volunteer Attorney Association visits the Library monthly.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, they are providing legal services online.  For more information, call (765) 421-6558 or email kevin.jones@probonoindiana.org

Indiana Legal Services: Trusts & Wills