Column: When to do an estate plan


Commentary by Lisa Dillman 

You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. When it comes to estate planning, there is no better time to begin planning than now. Without an estate plan in place, your money and property will be distributed by the state when you die, or you could find yourself in long-term care with dwindling savings.

Here are several life transitions that should prompt you to consider creating (or updating) your estate plan.

• Property ownership – As soon as you acquire real property, you should create a will to designate where this asset will go if you pass away.

• Creating a bank account – Do you have cash in a bank account? Investments in stocks and bonds? Consider how these assets will be distributed when you pass.

• Marriage – Whether you are newly married or newly divorced, now is a great time to create an estate plan that reflects your new family situation.

• Birth of a child – Whether it is your first, second, or third child, you should consider updating your estate plan as soon as they are born.

• Extensive travel – If you plan to embark on a long trip, updating your estate plan before leaving is recommended.

• Inheritance acquisition – Were you the beneficiary of another’s estate? If so, you may want to reflect any new property in your own estate plan.

• Retirement – Upon retirement, your financial situation may change significantly.

Do you have a plan for long-term care?

An estate plan also can help you avoid the headaches and heartaches associated with aging. With well-drafted estate planning documents, you can appoint a power of attorney to help you make decisions about your health and finances in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. You can also create a trust that will protect and preserve your property for future generations, and you can plan for long-term care so that you have the type and quality of care you deserve.

Ready to take the first step?

Now that you understand the importance of creating a comprehensive estate plan, it’s time to act.

A solid first step is to meet with an attorney who can discuss your current situation and help you develop a plan that meets your specific needs. You can contact one of the attorneys at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law at 317-492-9569 or any qualified attorney who specializes in estate planning.

Lisa Dillman is an attorney at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law. The firm has offices in Indianapolis, Carmel and Zionsville. Find out more at