If you are a Louisiana resident and you don't already have a will in place, there are countless reasons why this should be the year that you change that. Here are my top 5:
1. Direct Where Property Will Go at Your Death.
When you pass away without a will, the State of Louisiana writes one for
you. In nearly all situations, that can cause unexpected and unwanted
results. Having a will in place ensures that the estate you have built
over your lifetime ends up in the right hands.
2. Name a Guardian to Raise Your Children.
If you have not yet named a Guardian (called a “Tutor” in
Louisiana) for your minor children, it is critical that you do so. If
a child has no living parent and no Tutor has been named, a Judge will
determine who will raise your child. This may or may not be the person
you would have chosen. Nominating an individual in your will to act in
this capacity is the best way to ensure that your children are cared for
in the event of your death.
3. Protect Your Children
A well-drafted will can protect the property you give to your children
from lawsuits, divorces, and bankruptcies. Additionally, having a will
in place allows you to direct when and how your children will receive
their legacies, thereby avoiding the more traditional “lump sum” payment.
If you have a child who is receiving governmental benefits, like Medicaid
or SSI, having a will in place is the best way to ensure that they do
not become disqualified from receiving those benefits as a result of their
4. Protect Your Spouse.
When you pass away without a will, your spouse’s rights to the property
you owned together will be affected, as will his or her rights to any
property owned only by you. A will can outline how much of your property
your spouse is to receive and how he or she will receive it (i.e. all
at once or in increments). Having a will in place is the best way to ensure
that your spouse is taken care of in the event of your death.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Legal Costs
A probate proceeding (called a “succession” in Louisiana)
may be required in order to transfer the ownership of your assets at your
death. In your will, you can name an individual to direct this process
(called your “Executor”) and you can empower them to settle
your estate swiftly and efficiently by allowing them to do many things
without a Judge’s approval.
If you would like to know more about anything mentioned in this article,
or if you'd like to set up a meeting to discuss your particular situation,
please call us at (225) 615-0532.