What Is Estate Planning?

An estate plan is a set of documents that you create with the help of an estate planning lawyer to protect your personal property and your assets. In these documents, it is explained how you want this property and these assets (your “estate”) to be passed on to others.

When you create an estate plan, you are outlining your wishes. On top of that, you are specifically noting who you are appointing to guard your wishes and enact them once you have passed on.

What Does an Estate Plan Include?

There are a number of different components to an estate plan. These include:

  • A will that identifies who you want to be the guardian of your children, receive each of your assets, and be an executor to oversee the process
  • A power of attorney who makes business or legal decisions, pays your bills, manages investments, and makes financial decisions if you aren’t able to
  • A medical power of attorney, who is appointed to make medical decisions for you if you are unable
  • A trust that reduces or eliminates estate taxes in high net-worth estates and controls when and how the distribution of your assets takes place

Having an estate plan doesn’t mean that you are a person with exceptional wealth. Anyone who has assets that they want to transfer to surviving loved ones after they pass will benefit from creating a formal estate plan.

When Should You Start an Estate Plan?

Many people assume that they don’t need to create an estate plan until they are in an advanced age. Actually, though, most financial advisors recommend that an individual should start the estate planning process when they become a legal adult. After that, it is recommended that you update it every three to five years for the rest of your life.

That being said, it is very uncommon for 18-year-olds to have estate planning on their mind.

There are a number of life events that could signify that it’s time to start the estate planning process. This is true no matter your age.

Savings Account

It is a good idea to start estate planning as soon as you open your first savings account. This will make sure that if anything ever happened to you, the funds would go to the loved ones or cause that you want it to.

Home and Property Ownership

If you don’t have an estate plan when you are a property owner, the distribution of your assets will go through a probate court process in the event of your death. You can avoid this by having an estate plan in place as soon as you buy your first property. You’ll want to make sure you update your estate plan when you acquire additional property or change your real estate portfolio.

When you own probate assets, it’s important to hire Indianapolis probate attorneys to help ensure that your wishes are honored.


If you are leaving the country frequently or taking long trips, it’s a good idea to keep your estate plan updated. If you are planning on taking a big trip soon, consider updating your estate plan beforehand.

Marriage and Remarriage

When you get married, you’re combining assets. This is a crucial time to begin the process of estate planning.


It’s important to think about the financial security of your children and guardianship if anything were to happen to you or your spouse. With the birth of your first child and subsequent children, it’s important to have an estate plan in place.


If your marriage has ended, it’s important to update your estate plan to accommodate the change in your life. Estate plans that you made with your previous partner will likely no longer be appropriate for your circumstance.

Inheritance of Money or Other Assets

When you inherit money or other assets, it’s a good time to work with an estate planning law firm to update your estate plan. This way, you can be sure that your assets are distributed in the way you would like in the event of your death.

Births in the Family or Grandchildren

Every time there is a birth in your family, it can be a good time to update your estate plan. This way, you can ensure that your family members are all taken care of when you pass away.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney in Indianapolis

Estate planning is such a crucial process that it’s essential to hire the best estate planning attorney for the job.

At Barnes Cadwell Law, we prioritize placing the needs of each client center stage. We are here to serve the estate planning needs of individuals throughout Central Indiana including Indianapolis, Westfield, Fishers, Noblesville, Carmel, and throughout Marion County and Hamilton County.

Is it time for you to get in touch with an estate planning attorney in Indianapolis? If so, contact us today!