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Frequently Asked Questions

You can own property individually, or as a joint owner with rights of survivorship with others, or as a joint owner as a tenant-in-common with others, or as part of your Revocable Trust. Each method of ownership differs with regard to who may inherit your property upon your death. As part of the Estate Planning process, it is important to review not only what you own but how it is owned or titled, along with whether there are designated beneficiaries, and who are the primary beneficiaries and who are the contingent beneficiaries.

“POD” stands for payable on death. “TOD” stands for transfer on death. Each is a type of beneficiary designation that would override the terms of your Last Will and Testament or the terms of your Revocable Trust (unless your estate or your Revocable Trust is the designated beneficiary).

Most likely the banker or financial advisor or friend who recommends that you add or make a “POD” or “TOD” designation to your asset(s) is not an attorney, nor are they licensed to provide income tax consultation services. In evaluating and deciding whether to add or make a “POD” or “TOD” designation to any of your assets, prior consultation with your legal counsel should be strongly considered so that you can discuss both the potential legal consequences and the potential income tax implications of making a “POD” or “TOD” designation.

Some people are surprised to learn that if you die without having a Last Will and Testament (intestate) the State of Indiana has a statute (Indiana code 29- 1- 2- 1) which provides who inherits the property you own individually for which you have not otherwise properly designated a beneficiary or is not owned jointly with rights of survivorship.

Upon your death the beneficiary or beneficiaries you properly designated will most likely be entitled to claim or receive that asset.

If you own property with another person (or with multiple persons) as joint owners with rights of survivorship, your ownership interest will pass by operation of law to the surviving joint owners. The terms of your Last Will and Testament and your Revocable Trust will not control who inherits assets you own jointly with rights of survivorship.

Property you own jointly with others as tenants-in-common will be controlled by the terms of your Last Will and Testament or your Revocable Trust or if you do not have a Last Will and Testament by Indiana statute.

The State of Indiana repealed its Indiana Inheritance Tax effective during calendar year 2013.

The basic exclusion exemption amount or applicable exclusion amount for calendar year 2023 is $12,920,000.

In general, a donor can give any other person (a donee) up to $17,000 during calendar year 2023 and those gifts will not be subject to federal gift tax.

As part of succession planning for a business entity most owners find that having a written Buy/Sell Agreement helps your business co-owners and your family members gain a better understanding of what happens with your ownership interest upon your death or upon your lifetime withdrawal from the ownership of that business entity.

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