There’s a huge misconception that only famous people or the affluent need to have a plan in place for their estates. That couldn’t be more wrong. Even if you have little in the way of assets, you should still make it a point to establish a will. In the event that you pass away without writing a will—referred to as “dying intestate”—your state gets to decide who gets what. While wills and estate planning laws vary state to state, one rule holds true: if you don’t have a will, the government will create one for you.
Your assets and estate, no matter how massive or meager, will be distributed according to Laws of intestacy. More often than not, it means your assets will be distributed among your next of kin, spouse, and children, but there’s no way of determining who gets what, and who will be in charge of the distribution.
Here are more reasons why having a will is important:
Since a will is a legally-binding document that explains in detail how you would like your estate and assets to be handled, it is very difficult for someone to contest it as long as it complies with state law. When you pass away, the will can help prevent and minimize any family arguments about your estate that may arise. Without a will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out.
In Louisiana, a surviving parent is most likely to be granted custody. However, a will allows you to outline your wishes regarding the care of any minor children. If you are the last surviving parent, you can designate the guardian (referred to as a tutor in Louisiana) of your child(ren). Without one, the court will decide who among your family members will be in charge of them or entrust them to a state-appointed guardian. Having a will lets you appoint a person you want to raise your children, as well as make sure that they do not end up with someone you do not trust.
Another advantage of having a will is it lets you extend your legacy and make an impact that reflects your personal values and interests. If you do not have a will, your estate will fall intestate, and Louisiana law will dictate a set order of who inherits your estate. If you intend to leave specific items to an individual or organization, the only way to accomplish that is to have a will or trust drafted by your attorney.
If you think there may be individuals who can express the want to inherit your estate and assets, having a will gives you the right to disinherit them (to an extent). A will offers a clear direction as to how to handle everything you’ve left behind, and you can ensure that it won’t end up in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend. However, be advised that even with a will, Louisiana has forced heirship laws. That means that any descendants under the age of 24 or who are deemed mentally or physically incapable of handling their own affairs may still have a claim to a portion of your estate. An attorney can guide you through these issues, and protect against these unintended consequences.
Today most people do not incur estate taxes. In Louisiana, your estate must be over 5.5 million dollars before estate taxes are incurred. However, proper estate planning may allow you to minimize your estate taxes. The value of what you choose to give away to your family or charity will reduce the amount of your estate when it’s time to pay taxes.
Proper estate planning should be seen as a necessity as it outlines your desires after you pass away. Should you need help with creating a will or trust, please fill out the form below and we’ll help out with your will or trust.
If you’re looking for the assistance of will and estate planning attorneys in Bossier City, get in touch with us to see how we can help.