All persons, no matter their age or financial status benefit from having a properly drafted will as part of their estate plan. A will is a declaration of how you, the testator, wants your property to be distributed at the time of your death.
FIVE SCENARIOS WHERE HAVING A WILL IS IMPORTANT: (the below is meant as a very general illustration of Louisiana Law)
- MARRIED COUPLE: If you pass away without a Will, your spouse does not automatically inherit your property. Your spouse is entitled to their half of community property in their own right, but they are not entitled to your half. (The law does allow for spousal usufructs which will be the discussion of later blog posts.) When you do not have a Will, your children inherit your property. If you don’t have children, your parents and/or your siblings inherit your property. Most couples want to make sure their spouses are taken care of in the even they pass away and a simple Will can resolve this issue by leaving all property you die possessed of to your spouse.
- DIVORCED COUPLE WITH MINOR CHILDREN: If you are divorced with children and you pass away without a Will, your children inherit your property. Your ex-spouse, as the natural tutor of the children can also qualify as the curator of the children’s property. This would allow your ex-spouse to have control over the assets your children inherit from you. A Will with trust provisions for your property can allow you to dictate who will be responsible for the assets your children inherit and how this money should be spent. Ie. Education
- YOUNG COUPLES: Just because you are young, doesn’t mean you do not need a Will. Even if your assets are limited at the time, you have to worry about your children. Having a will allows you to dictate who will get custody of your children and who will be responsible for whatever assets your children inherit. Failing to properly designate a tutor (caretaker) of the children could lead to drawn out court battles over who will take care of the children. They are your children and you should be the one to dictate who will care for them.
- PERSON WITH NO CHILDREN: If you pass away with no children and no will, your assets will go to your parents and siblings. If you have specific individuals, charities, or other wishes for your property, a simple Will allows you to designate what happens to your property.
- INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATION: In a will, you are allowed to appoint an independent administrator to carry out your last wishes. This is the person who will carry through with the probate process, insure that your assets are distributed accordingly, and will be responsible for handling all of the affairs of your estate. It is important to appoint someone competent and that you trust to be your independent administrator.
It is never too early to talk about estate planning. Wills can be changed as circumstances change and your estate plan can evolve as you age. It is imperative that you are pro active in assuring that you decide how your estate is handled. Contact Dufresne Law Firm today to discuss you and your families future.