In Indiana, probate estates are classified in one of two categories, supervised or unsupervised.  A supervised estate is one that requires court approval before the personal representative makes any financial transactions. An unsupervised estate allows the personal representative to make decisions about the estate without having to report to the court.  Also, unsupervised probate estates tend move faster through the probate process because there’s less court involvement.

Individuals can specify whether or not they want their estate to be supervised in their will. If a will doesn’t exist, or if the decedent doesn’t specify their preference, the supervision of the estate is determined by the total asset value. Estates valued under $50 thousand in total assets are automatically designated as unsupervised estates.

What’s included in the total asset value of an estate?

  • Property, real estate, bank accounts, automobiles, business interests, and personal effects owned solely and directly by the decedent are included in the total asset value.
  • Things like life insurance policies, retirement benefits, and assets owned by a trust are not included in the total asset value.

Why designate the supervision of an estate?

  • Unsupervised estates are significantly less expensive than supervised ones. It takes more time, money, and effort to administer a supervised estate, so many people choose to designate their estate as unsupervised in order to save their personal representative the extra effort.
  • In complicated family situations where heirs may not agree on different aspects of the estate, some people choose to designate their estate as supervised in order to prevent conflict and mitigate the concerns of all affected parties.

When possible, plan ahead. With careful estate planning, and the help of an experienced attorney, many people in Indiana choose to avoid the probate process when possible. This can save the estate significant court and legal fees in the future.  In turn, this can leave more money available to heirs and beneficiaries as intended.

To learn more about the implications of your particular situation, call our helpline to get connected with an attorney.