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 inheritance.
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.