Will Attorney

By most estimates, over half of the people in the United States do not have a will in place. Death is a subject that most people want to avoid but drafting a will does not need to be stressful, especially if you are working with the right attorney. Below is some general information about making a will in Louisiana.

Will Attorney Metairie

What Should You Include in Your Will?

Although every will is different, there are four main areas that it should cover.

  1. The executor (or personal representative) is responsible for carrying out your wishes contained in the will. This person is in charge of tasks like distributing your property, paying debts, and filing estate taxes. It is critical to choose a responsible and trustworthy individual.
  2. You must include the people (or organizations) that you wish to leave your property to. Typically, your beneficiaries include spouses, children, siblings, and charities. You should be clear and specific when naming beneficiaries to avoid confusion.
  3. Instructions for the Distribution of Your Property. You should define all your property (real estate, personal possessions, bank accounts, etc.) and how you want it distributed. Your will does not need to include property that passes outside of probate, such as life insurance and real estate held jointly.
  4. Name a Legal Guardian for Your Children. If you have minor children, you should name the person who you want to take care of your children if you pass away. Additionally, you should designate a conservator to manage property left to minor children. You should consult with these individuals to confirm that they are willing and able to assume the role.

What are the Requirements for a Valid Will in Louisiana?

Louisiana has specific requirements that must be met for a will to be valid. These requirements are strictly applied, and if they are not met, the court won’t enforce the will.

  • You must sign the will at the end of the document and on each separate page in the presence of a notary and two competent witnesses.
  • At least two witnesses must sign a declaration signifying that they have witnessed the testator signing the will or declaring the document to be his will. The witnesses must sign in the presence of a notary.
  • The will must be in writing. Oral wills are not enforced.

Louisiana also recognizes handwritten (holographic) wills. The entire document must be in the testator’s handwriting, signed, and dated to be valid.

Can You Make Changes to a Will in Louisiana?

Once you make a will in Louisiana, it is not set in stone. You can amend a will at any time with a codicil executed with the same formalities as a will. A codicil is a written document that outlines the changes.

You can also revoke your will and execute an entirely new will. The subsequent will should expressly state that you are revoking the old will.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Louisiana?

If you die without a will, you are said to die intestate, and Louisiana state law will determine who inherits your estate. These laws are strictly applied and may not coincide with your wishes.

Louisiana intestate laws are based on two factors: 1) whether the property is a community (acquired during the marriage) or separate (acquired before marriage or inherited) and 2) the relationship of the family member to the deceased.

  • Community Property
  • If there are surviving children and a surviving spouse, the spouse has the right to use the community property for life. The children inherit the community property subject to the surviving spouse’s right to use it for life.
  • If there are surviving spouses and no surviving descendants, all the community property passes to the surviving spouse.
  • Separate Property
  • If there are surviving descendants (children and grandchildren), separate property is distributed to all children equally. If any child is deceased, their children (the grandchildren) will split the child’s share.
  • If there are surviving parents and siblings and no descendants, separate property will pass to the siblings, subject to a usufruct for life for the decedent’s parents.
  • If there are surviving siblings and no surviving descendants or parents, the separate property is split equally between the surviving siblings.
  • If there are surviving parents and no surviving descendants or siblings, the parents will inherit equally if they are both alive.

Your Metairie Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions about estate planning, you should reach out to a local Metairie attorney. The Fisher Law Firm is a full-service law firm dedicated to providing the best legal services to Louisiana residents. Call us today at 504-304-4944 to schedule an appointment at our Metairie, Louisiana office.

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