Most people know that they should have a will, but many don't know what a will is and how it works.
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 do-it-yourself will software or online will programs. 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 finalize your will in Indiana:
It's best to have "disinterested witnesses" who don't get anything in your will act as your witnesses. An interested witness who does get something in your will can forfeit this gift by acting as your witness. (Ind. Code Ann. § § 29-1-5-2.)
No, in Indiana, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.
To make your will self-proving, 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 will software and online will 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).
You can find Indiana’s laws about making wills here: Indiana Code Annotated Title 29 Probate Article 1 Probate Code Chapter 1 General Provisions.