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Caring For Generations

Standing on Safe Ground for Business and Estate Planning

by | Jun 5, 2024 | business planning, Estate Planning

Over the past 25 years, as we’ve offered estate and business planning help to Geyer Law clients throughout Indiana, one thing has remained abundantly clear: no plan, no transaction, can be successful in the long run unless it is “standing on safe ground.”

Estate planning

Because real estate is an illiquid asset, it’s especially important to consider how heirs might be affected when receiving property through your estate. For one thing, if you plan to leave your home or other structure to more than one beneficiary, some special planning is probably in order to avoid disagreement later.

Not only can interpersonal conflicts arise among heirs concerning property division and/or liquidation, when an inherited property turns out to be contaminated, the liability can be inherited along with the property itself. “Contaminated property makes for a costly inheritance,” a 2020 article in the New York Times observed.

For today’s blog post, our Geyer Law editor interviewed Alexis Pichtel of Wilcox Environmental Engineering*, Pichtel recalls a case in which an Indiana resident had inherited a property in which the soil was heavily contaminated with metals. After lengthy and expensive negotiations, the insurance company paid for the cleanup of the property which included the excavation and removal of the contaminated soil. A site assessment done by the person creating the estate plan could have prevented the legal problems suffered later by the heir.

Business planning

As the team at Geyer & Associates helps Indiana businesses start off on the right foot, the goal is to help entrepreneurs avoid costly mistakes; There are many legal documents to be prepared, including buy-sell agreements and employment contracts, but, if the business is going to purchase and own real estate, there is a crucial extra step need needed. “Coverage for loss or damages resulting from unexpected releases of pollutants is typically excluded in general liability and property insurance policies,” the Center for Insurance Policy and Research notes.

A Phase I environmental site assessment is a must, Pichtel stresses, a sort of “background check” for real estate property. If buyers investigate property prior to closing and document the findings, she explains, they can be made aware of  problems that might manifest themselves later.

At Geyer Law, we want to make sure that both our estate planning and business planning clients are on “safe ground” when it comes to environmental risks.

– by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates blog team


    Alexis Lynn Pichtel is Project Manager for Wilcox Environmental Engineering’s Investigative and Remediation Services Division in Speedway, Indiana. For further information, visit or connect with Alexis on LinkedIn Alexis Lynn Pichtel (Litz) | LinkedIn