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Indianapolis, Indiana Legal Blog

What is a health proxy?

There are many things to consider about estate planning in Indiana. One part of the process is to name a health proxy or power of attorney regarding healthcare decisions. Some people may not think this is important, but there are numerous reasons why someone should have a health proxy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a health proxy is a type of advance directive that allows for someone else to make medical decisions when a patient is unable to. All adults should have one, as an emergency situation can come along at any time. Other names for a proxy include agent, patient advocate, surrogate, representative and attorney-in-fact. Once named, a health care proxy cannot make any decisions for the patient unless the doctor provides written proof the patient is unable to decide for him or herself.

Employee loyalty may reduce legal problems

For many business owners in Indiana, their employees play an invaluable role in seeing that they are able to successfully reach their goals and effectively serve their customers. Employees are the detailed parts of the machine that are overall responsible for keeping the entire endeavor moving forward. Companies that are committed to helping their employees recognize their value and feel their value, may be more effective at reducing costly legal problems. 

When businesses are facing a lawsuit from one of their employees there could be a variety of reasons why including discrimination, unfair labor practices or even fraud. In some of these circumstances, the entire incident could have stemmed from a growing misunderstanding that may have been prevented if it was appropriately dealt with from the onset. Effective communication is imperative in any business's effort to help their employees feel heard and appreciated. 

What every farmer needs to know about estate planning

Indiana is full of family farms. In fact, the Hoosier state has more than 50,000 family-owned farms. Even in the 21st century, many family farms are passed down from one generation to the next. So, it’s crucial that farmers have a good estate plan and succession plan so that those who want to keep up the family tradition of farming get ownership of that land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the average value of larger family farms was about $4.5 million in 2014. That’s a significant amount of money when it comes to estate planning. Many times some siblings are more interested in keeping the farm than others.

Handling a real estate dispute

When it comes to selling, buying or leasing real estate (residential or commercial), there are many challenges that people may encounter. Sometimes, these transactions result in unexpected hurdles, such as a disagreement. In some instances, seemingly minor disagreements may lead to much larger disputes and even legal action. Whether you are buying a family home, looking for commercial property for your business or leasing residential property, it is vital to do everything in your power to resolve a dispute successfully. For some people in Indiana, these disputes can become very costly, time-consuming and stressful.

There are many factors that may need to be reviewed when a real estate dispute arises. The details surrounding the dispute should be carefully examined and an individualized approach is crucial since there are unique factors surrounding every situation. You may be able to resolve a dispute without heading to court, but litigation cannot be avoided all of the time. If a dispute between parties is inevitably going to the courtroom, you should be prepared for the case and have a good understanding of your rights.

Resolving disputes with staff members

Business owners face countless challenges every single day, such as issues involving customers, seasonal business fluctuation, disagreements with business partners and all sorts of financial concerns related to running a business. For some business owners, disputes involving staff members arise, and these can be especially tough to handle. Whether your business is accused of wrongdoing due to wage and hour violations (denied overtime, etc.), or you have been accused of discriminating against a job applicant or an employee, these disputes can be incredibly tough to deal with. Furthermore, the consequences can disrupt your business in many ways.

When disputes arise with current employees, the outcome of the situation could affect their employment and it may prompt other workers to quit or take action as well. As a result, it is crucial to handle these disputes as smoothly as possible. Sometimes, the right approach can prevent a dispute from making its way to the courtroom. In other instances, an employee may be determined to move ahead with a lawsuit against their employer.

No-contest clauses in Indiana

One of the main purposes of estate planning is to avoid contention amongst your beneficiaries once you are gone. With your wishes clearly stated in your estate planning documents, how can one even think to challenge them? As many of those that our team here at Dale & Eke have worked with in the past can attest to, beneficiaries often have a way of questioning what a decedent's actual desires were when writing their wills. To avoid the potential for any dispute arising amongst the family and friends you name in your will, some might encourage you to include a no-contest clause. Yet is such a clause enforceable? 

A no-contest clause is any language that threatens to limit one's interest in an estate should they challenge a testator's provisions. The fear of potentially being disinherited will often quell the concerns some may have over your will. Yet the law does recognize that there may indeed be legitimate cases where one's decisions were unduly influenced or where one was not in a right state of mind to make estate designations. Thus, some courts have deemed no-contest clauses to be invalid. 

How can I deduct my charitable giving on my taxes?

Charitable giving is woven into the fabric of American culture. Many people generously give to a variety of charities and philanthropic organizations. If you plan to donate to a charity and would like to take advantage of available tax benefits, you need to determine the organization’s tax status.

Qualifications for organizations and incentives for donors

Who can terminate contracts for their convenience?

Winning a contract with a government agency in Indianapolis often brings with it a great deal of security. Unlike many private companies, government organization typically have the resource backing needed to ensure that the issue of compensation for your work is something you will not have to worry about. Yet government partners bring their own unique challenges to any contractual situation. Chief among these is the freedom they are given in canceling agreements for their convenience. 

A partner being able to end a business agreement simply because it believes it to be in its best interests to do so may fly in the face of everything that you think you know about contract law. Yet termination for convenience is right at that is automatically afforded to government agencies. The Congressional Research Service lists the following as common reasons why a government partner might choose to invoke this benefit: 

  • It has asked you to renegotiate your contract, yet you are unwilling to do so
  • It has developed the capacity to perform the services you provide in-house
  • It no longer needs the services that you provide
  • Questions have arisen as to your eligibility to propriety of you being awarded the contract
  • You no longer being eligible to provide the services needed
  • A simple breakdown or deterioration of your business relationship

Nuncupative wills explained

Many in Indianapolis may insist that their will always be time for them to see to their estate planning. Whether it is due to a fear of having to confront their own mortality or not wanting to have to be the "bad guy" that upsets assumed beneficiaries with their decisions, even the prospect of creating a will is daunting to some. This contributes to the ever-growing number of those who do not have a will (which is nearly 60 percent of American adults, according to the American Association of Retired Persons). Refusing to address one's estate planning could come back to haunt them in an unexpected illness or injury has them confronting the prospect of death much sooner than they anticipated. Yet even at such a late time in their lives, they still have the chance to create a will. 

Indiana does indeed recognize nuncupative wills. These are oral wills given by those who, due to physical limitations, are unable to go through the process of executing a written will. Rather, they can state their wishes verbally in the same manner they might record them on a written document. 

The basics of estate planning

Estate planning in Indiana is often juxtaposed against other terms, such as wills or trusts. But what do these words mean? Are they all the same things, pieces of a whole, or alternatives? CNN Money describes estate planning as the planning process behind how assets will be distributed after someone passes away.

Many people believe estate planning is only for the wealthy, but everyone should try to have a plan in place, regardless of their net worth. By working with financial planners and other professionals, people help to ensure taxes take as little as possible from what they leave to individual beneficiaries. Here are some of the aspects of estate planning worth looking into:

  •          A will that details how assets should be distributed
  •          A living will that details what kind of life-sustaining medical procedures an individual prefers or does not prefer if they become incapacitated
  •          A health care proxy which authorizes a trusted individual to make medical decisions
  •          A trust to minimize taxes wherever possible and detail how assets should be distributed
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