Not all estates in Indiana pass through probate, but any property that passes under a will or under the rules of intestacy must go through the probate process upon the decedent’s death. In probate, the personal representative winds up the defendant’s affairs and distributes property. Probating an estate is complex and often confusing, but an attorney can guide you through the process.
A personal representative is the person whom the court appoints to administer a decedent’s estate. The personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the decedent’s beneficiaries and creditors. This means that he or she must carry out the duties of the probate process correctly. If this does not happen, the personal representative may be liable. If you have been appointed the personal representative of an estate, our attorneys can guide you through the process and defend you if someone accuses you of any improper acts.
Taxes and Creditors
Once a personal representative has been appointed, he or she has the responsibility to make sure that the decedent’s debts are paid so that the beneficiaries may receive clear title to the decedent’s assets. The first step is to pay the decedent’s income and estate tax liabilities and to pay off any creditors. Since 2013, Indiana has had no estate or inheritance tax, but some must pay a federal estate tax. For 2016, the first $5.45 million of a decedent’s estate is exempt from taxation, but any amount above that is taxed at 40 percent. An estate planning attorney can file the complex estate tax return for you.
After the decedent’s creditors and taxes are paid, the personal representative is charged with distributing the decedent’s assets according to the will or the rules of intestate succession. If the personal representative has complied with all the probate requirements, the beneficiaries will receive their distributions free from any future claims by the decedent’s creditors. If you are a personal representative, an attorney can help you make sure that you pay all debts and distribute assets in accordance with Indiana’s laws.
If you have been appointed as the personal representative of an Indiana estate, it is important to retain the services of an Indiana probate attorney to ensure that you administer the estate in compliance with the law. Please contact the J Peterman Legal Group Ltd. for an initial consultation at our Merrillville office.