Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Indiana:
A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:
In Indiana, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Indiana's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
No. You can make your own will in Indiana, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.
To make a will in Indiana, you must be of sound mind and:
Your will must usually be in writing. Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-5-1. Indiana does recognize nuncupative (oral) wills but they are limited in use and it's usually best to avoid them, if possible. Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-5-4. Your will ceremony can be videotaped, but you must still have your will in writing. Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-5-3.2. Under Indiana law, "in writing" includes an electronic version of a will. (See "Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?," below.) Indiana does not permit holographic (handwritten) wills.
To finalize your will in Indiana:
Neither witness should be a beneficiary of the will. Witnesses who stand to inherit under the will risk forfeiting gifts that the will leaves to them. Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-5-2.
Indiana requires the "actual presence" of the witnesses, even if the will maker is making an electronic will. Ind. Code Ann. § 29-1-21-4.
No, in Indiana, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.
To make your will self-proving in Indiana, you and your witnesses sign a document that says the following:
This language can be included in the will itself, or you can put it in a separate document that you attach to your will.
Most states that let you use this type of document require you and your witnesses to sign it in front of a notary, but you don't have to do that in Indiana.
Yes. In Indiana, you can use your will to name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust produces a letter to your executor that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name an executor, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.
In Indiana, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by taking any of the following actions:
If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).
Indiana is one of a handful of states that technically allows electronic wills (e-wills). The requirements for making a valid e-will can be elaborate, and the concept is still fairly new. As a result, e-wills are still not commonplace. For more details on Indiana's specific approach to e-wills, see What Is an Electronic Will?
You can find Indiana's laws about making wills here: Indiana Code Annotated Title 29 Probate Article 1 Probate Code.