Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Creating a will is one of the most procrastinated legal events for the average American.
Most believe that they only need a will after they retire and death by old age seems imminent; however, in most cases this is a myopic assumption. If you have pets, children, own property (real estate, personal items, financial assets), and/or have concerns or reservations about how and to whom your property is being distributed, you need a will—no matter what age you are ( as long as you are at least 18). As more and more families experience divorce at some point, obtaining a will is especially important for ensuring the people you want to have your property get it.
If you do not have a will the State of Indiana has laws about to whom and how your property gets distributed and who gets to decide that—for example, if you have a family heirloom that has been passed down through generations to the eldest daughter in your family and you would like to do the same, if you do not have a will, you do not have a say in how anything gets distributed. However, a will affords you the opportunity to nominate personal representatives you trust to carry out your intentions of property distribution as memorialized in the will.
That said, a will can be more than just a document which dictates how an item of personal property gets passed along. There are many types of legal tools which can be contained in a will. That is, a will can be, and is often, more than just what is called a simple will—simply stating what property goes to what heir.
The State of Indiana permits testamentary trusts, for example. By way of background a trust is a legal entity which is governed by a trustee (person in charge of the trust) who manages and distributes property of the trust. Unlike a will, a trust permits the settlor (person making the trust) to place significant restrictions on the distribution of the res, or property, of the trust. For example, as a settlor you may place $50,000 in trust to be distributed to your son upon the age of 18 only to be used for college tuition. Under a will if you were to die and you had $50,000 which you wanted to leave to your son, the property