Virtual Estate Services

Life is busy! So many of us have had “estate planning” on our “To Do” list for far longer than we’d like to admit.

My estate practice relies on technology, to serve you from the comfort of home, at a time convenient for you. While I always enjoy meeting clients face to face, if your schedule does not allow for in person meetings, my practice relies on teleconferencing and video conferencing (Zoom, Google Duo, or FaceTime) to allow for virtual meetings at a time and location most convenient for you.

March 2020 UPDATE: At this time of social distancing, when in-person meetings are not available, we are ready to serve you virtually via either video conference or teleconference.

Execute Documents Remotely

We will soon be able to assist clients in executing their estate planning documents without meeting in person through use of remote notary, which will soon be available by the Indiana Secretary of State. Our attorneys and paralegals will take steps to have this service available to our clients as soon as it is available from the Indiana Secretary of State. Remote notary will allow us to serve as remote notary witnesses, and notarize documents virtually, without an in-person meeting. Although a Last Will and Testament must be executed with in-person witnesses, the remote notary will allow for other documents to be notary witnessed.

Please contact my office with any questions. We’re excited to be able to offer this service to clients at this time of public health crisis and social distancing.

Estate Planning During Coronavirus & Social Distancing

During this frightening time, we are all reminded of life’s unpredictability and the need for estate planning.  I utilize technology to virtually meet with clients, via videoconference or teleconference.  You can work with us to get your estate plan in place now, from the comfort and safety of your home, without in person meetings.

Key documents all Indiana adults should have in place, at any time, but especially during a time of health risk:

  1. Last Will and Testament. In its most basic form, your Will provides for you to direct the distribution of your assets titled to your name individually upon your death and appoint a person (or persons) to administer your estate upon your death. If you die without a Will, assets titled in your individual name may be subject to intestate administration.
  1. Appointment of Health Care Representative. Also called Health Care Proxy and Health Care Power of Attorney, this document provides for the appointment of a person (or persons) to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
  1. General Durable Power of Attorney. In your General Durable Power of Attorney, you name a person (or persons) to make financial decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.
  1. Living Will. Your Living Will allows you to state your preferences regarding end of life decisions in the event of an incurable illness or persistent vegetative state.

Working with Fantastic People

I work with great people!  Harrison & Moberly is comprised of a team of talented, smart, and caring individuals.  Most of our staff have been with us for decades.  It’s an incredible place to work.

I was reminded of this fact this morning, when I found a pile of thick, extra-long scarfs knitted by our long-time legal assistant, Janice Collins.  Janice – a knock out litigation assistant — told me she just has to keep busy in the evenings, and so knits away.  She recruited H&M tax and estates lawyer, Fred Scott, to pass out these scarfs to homeless people on his daily walks to Court.

They did not want me to write about this.  Their motivation to help others, in some small way, stay warmer in the cold weather months, was certainly not motivated by a desire for attention or recognition.  But I couldn’t help but share this story.  It’s another reminder that people are what make a work place and a law firm great.  I am thankful to call Harrison & Moberly and its people my law firm family.

A Celebrity’s Daughter’s Death and Estate Planning for Young Adults

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having your now adult child get his or her estate planning documents prepared.  The idea may seem unnecessary at first blush — your now 18 year old (or twenty-something) “adult” child has just reached the legal age of adulthood and likely has yet to accumulate significant assets.  He or she may in many ways seem still like a child to you, and not yet ready for important adult documents.  However, under the law, they are adults, and you are no longer their default decisionmaker nor are you automatically granted access to your adult child’s medical records.  This is an important time for your child to designate whom he or she wishes to make these types of decisions.

A celebrity death serves as reminder to us of all the necessity of getting these documents in place.  Bobbi Kristina Brown, the twenty-two year old daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, died recently after several months in a comatose state.  You can read more about the tragic story here and here.  Unfortunately, her lack of incapacity planning documentation and resulting legal protections (not unusual, given her age) resulted in a family legal fight during her incapacity.  A reminder to talk with your young adult children about the necessity of getting, at a minimum, their incapacity documents in place under the counsel of an estate planning attorney.

Estate Planning and Our Four Legged Friends

Yesterday I visited Indianapolis’s Cat Haven, a wonderful local non-profit that provides homes for abandoned cats.  Many of these cats are elderly (10 years old or older), which gave me pause to consider how a cat that age would end up abandoned.  It seems likely to me that those animals may very well have been loved by an owner who passed away, leaving no one to care for the beloved pet.

High-profile estates, such as Joan Rivers, often provide for well-funded pet trusts.  However, planning for your pet to be cared for upon your death does not  require large sums of money, great wealth, or celebrity.  Pet Trusts are legally-enforceable instruments under Indiana law.  You can set aside a certain sum of money to provide for your pet(s) in a Pet Trust, designating a person or persons to care for your pet(s) and providing funds for your pet’s welfare.  Upon your pet’s death, you can direct for any remaining Pet Trust funds (not used for your pet’s benefit during his lifetime) can be distributed to your human beneficiaries or charities.  Even if you do not wish to provide for a Pet Trust, your Last Will and Testament is an ideal place to identify the person(s) who will care for your pet after your death.   I enjoy assisting estate planning clients with Pet Trusts and planning for beloved pets and would be happy to answer questions about planning for pets.

Here are some additional sources of information about planning for a pet’s care in the event of the owner’s death:

Humane Society of the United States: Providing For Your Pet’s Future Without You

ASPCA: Planning for your Pet’s Future

Prof. Gerry W. Beyer: Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Trusts