SHREVEPORT WILL LAWYERS
Shreveport Estate Planning Attorneys for Will Creation and Execution
Planning your family’s care once you’ve passed is not something that many people look forward to. However, creating a will that outlines your wishes and distribution of assets can help your family ease into a world without you.
The elder law attorneys at Greenwald Law Firm can help you write your will and ensure that all your wishes are dictated so that there are no questions about the distribution of your estate. Our attorneys can also assist with a living will and power of attorney documents.
What is a Will, and Why Do You Need One?
A will, or last testament, is a legal document that outlines a person’s final wishes for how their estate assets should be distributed following their passing. There is a common misconception that only wealthy people should have a will, but it’s recommended for everyone. Without a will, decisions regarding a decedent’s estate can be left up to a judge or state official and can result in family drama if there are disagreements about the division of property or assets.
Elements of a Will
Several critical elements make up a person’s last will and testament. At the Greenwald Law Firm, our estate administration attorneys will work with you to ensure that your document includes all the appropriate elements.
The distribution of assets includes everything from your bank accounts, real estate, artwork, furniture, jewelry, clothing, and more. If you have younger children, you can also set up a trust to hold certain assets until they reach adulthood.
Naming Guardians For Minors
When creating your will, it is important to name the guardians you want to care for your children, if applicable. This element should also include details about their daily care, life insurance policies, and assets that you will leave to them. In some cases, a person is assigned physical custodian of the children while another is the guardian of the property.
If you care for any elderly or impaired family members, it’s also important to name the guardian for them. Any pets should be assigned a guardian as well. It’s recommended to name more than one guardian in case the initial choice cannot take over.
Another critical element of a will is naming the executor of your estate. The executor is also referred to as your personal representative, and they’re assigned temporary custody of your assets. They are tasked with distributing your estate assets according to the directions in the will. They’ll also pay off any outstanding debts. Your executor will also oversee the transition of your children or pets to the custodian you’ve appointed. Like guardians, it’s recommended to name more than one executor in case the first choice is unable to serve.
Benefits of a Will
There are several benefits to creating a will. We’ll list some of them below:
- You can dictate who receives what assets and how much.
- You can prevent estranged relatives from receiving any assets.
- If you have younger children, you can dictate who cares for them in the event of your untimely death.
- The process for receiving assets and property is much quicker and smoother.
- You can dictate charitable donations, which can help offset estate taxes.
Another benefit of creating a will is that you can plan your funeral so your family isn’t left wondering what your final wishes would be. You can also dictate if you want your organs donated.
There is also the option of creating a living will that details your wishes while living, including medical care and healthcare decisions that your family can be aware of if you become incapacitated and cannot make those decisions yourself.
Who Can Create a Will in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, the legal requirements for creating a will are relatively straightforward, but they are governed by specific rules that differ somewhat from those in other U.S. states.
In Louisiana, anyone at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create a will if they meet the capacity and formalities required by the state’s unique civil law system. This means that individuals who wish to make a will must have the mental ability to understand the nature of their assets and beneficiaries, and they must do so in compliance with the state’s legal procedures.
Louisiana Will Laws and Regulations
Louisiana has a distinctive legal framework for wills compared to many other states due to its adherence to the civil law system, influenced by the French Napoleonic Code. Some key Louisiana laws and regulations pertaining to wills include:
- Forced Heirship: One of the most unique aspects of Louisiana’s succession law is the concept of “forced heirship.” This means that a portion of a person’s estate must be left to their forced heirs, who are usually descendants such as children and grandchildren. The forced portion varies depending on the number of forced heirs and their relationship to the deceased.
- Community Property: Louisiana is a community property state, which means that assets acquired during a marriage are generally considered community property, and each spouse has a one-half interest in them. This can impact the distribution of assets in a will, as community property rules apply to the decedent’s share of assets.
- Testaments and Notaries: In Louisiana, wills are referred to as “testaments,” and it is highly advisable to have a notary public assist in the creation and execution of a testament. While not mandatory for validity, involving a notary public can help ensure that the document complies with the state’s legal requirements and is less likely to face challenges.
- Holographic Wills: Louisiana uniquely allows for the creation of holographic wills, which are handwritten wills that do not require witnesses. However, these wills must be entirely in the testator’s handwriting and dated.
- Formalities and Requirements: Louisiana law sets specific requirements for the execution of wills, including that the testator must sign the testament at the end of the document or acknowledge their signature. Two competent witnesses must also be present to sign. Additionally, the testator must declare that the document is their will.
When Should I Start Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a crucial process that individuals should begin as soon as they have valuable assets, dependents, or specific wishes for the distribution of their property and assets after their passing. There is no fixed age at which one should start estate planning, as it largely depends on individual circumstances. However, starting as early as possible is a general rule of thumb.
By initiating estate planning early, individuals can ensure that their wishes are documented, their loved ones are provided for, and their assets are protected. Whether you’re a young adult with limited assets or someone approaching retirement, it’s never too early or too late to begin estate planning to achieve peace of mind and security for yourself and your family.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will in Louisiana?
If you die without a will in Louisiana, also known as dying “intestate,”, the state’s unique laws governing intestate succession come into play. These laws will determine the distribution of your assets, which may not align with your wishes.
In Louisiana, forced heirship rules apply, meaning a portion of your estate must go to your forced heirs, typically descendants such as children and grandchildren. The exact amount allocated to forced heirs depends on factors like the number of forced heirs and their relationship to you. The remaining assets may be distributed to your surviving spouse, if applicable, and other relatives according to a predefined order set by the state’s laws.
Dying without a will in Louisiana can result in a distribution of assets that may not reflect your intentions, making it imperative to engage in proper estate planning to ensure your assets are distributed as you wish and to minimize potential conflicts among heirs.
Do I Need an Attorney to Create a Will in Louisiana?
While hiring an attorney to create a will in Louisiana is not mandatory, seeking legal counsel is highly advisable, especially given the state’s unique laws and regulations surrounding succession and wills. Louisiana’s legal system follows civil law principles, which can differ significantly from common law systems in other states.
Attorney Joseph Greenwald, Jr., an experienced estate planning attorney in Shreveport, can provide invaluable guidance in understanding these intricacies, ensuring that your will complies with all legal requirements, including forced heirship rules and community property laws.
Legal Complexities In Estate Planning
Estate planning can be legally complex due to a variety of factors. First and foremost, the specific laws governing wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, necessitating a careful understanding of the local legal framework.
The complexity can arise from the intricacies of individual financial situations, especially in cases involving substantial assets, business interests, or complex investments. Tax laws can also add a layer of complexity, as estate taxes, gift taxes, and income taxes can have substantial implications for the distribution of assets.
Family dynamics and disputes among beneficiaries can introduce complexity, requiring thoughtful strategies to address potential conflicts. Given these challenges, working with an experienced estate planning attorney who can navigate the legal intricacies and help individuals create a comprehensive plan that aligns with their unique goals and circumstances is often advisable.
The Role of a Professional Law Corporation in Asset Protection
A professional law corporation plays a pivotal role in asset protection by offering specialized legal expertise to help individuals, limited liability companies, and professionals safeguard their wealth and assets from potential threats and liabilities.
Law firms, like Greenwald Law Firm, are equipped with attorneys who are well-versed in the intricacies of asset protection strategies, such as creating trusts, structuring businesses, and utilizing legal tools that shield assets from creditors, lawsuits, and other risks.
Personalized Legal Services For Unique Needs
The Shreveport estate planning lawyers at the Greenwald Law Firm have experience handling a number of estate planning and elder law issues that have made them the top LA lawyers in Shreveport, Bossier City, and the surrounding areas.
The probate process can be extremely challenging, especially if the estate is large with many heirs. Our estate planning and probate lawyers will work with you while outlining your wishes to ensure your estate plans leave no room for questions.
Comprehensive Estate Planning Services At Greenwald Law Firm
The Shreveport probate lawyers from the Greenwald Law Firm have extensive experience with estate planning for individuals and companies throughout the area. We’ve listed some areas that our attorneys can assist with when planning your estate.
Will Drafting And Review
Our attorneys can provide valuable assistance with will drafting and review by offering expert legal guidance in creating and evaluating comprehensive and legally sound wills. We work closely with our clients to understand their specific wishes and estate planning objectives, ensuring that all assets are distributed according to their desires.
Additionally, our thorough review process helps identify potential issues, ambiguities, or legal pitfalls in existing wills, allowing for necessary adjustments to ensure that the document accurately reflects the client’s intent and complies with applicable laws, thereby minimizing the risk of future disputes or challenges.
Living Trusts And Power Of Attorney
Our Shreveport estate planning attorneys offer valuable assistance in establishing living trusts and power of attorney documents to help clients manage their assets and make important financial and healthcare decisions. We work closely with individuals to create living trusts tailored to their specific needs, which can provide flexibility, privacy, and control over their assets during their lifetime and after their passing.
We also assist with drafting power of attorney documents, allowing clients to designate trusted individuals to make financial or healthcare decisions on their behalf in case of incapacity, ensuring their affairs are managed according to their preferences and best interests.
Health Care Directives
At Greenwald Law Firm, we provide essential assistance with health care directives, helping clients outline their medical choices and treatment decisions in legally binding documents. Your Shreveport estate planning attorney will help you create comprehensive notes that specify your desires regarding medical treatments, end-of-life care, and organ donation.
These documents empower clients to have a say in their healthcare decisions, even when they cannot communicate their wishes, providing peace of mind and ensuring their medical care aligns with their values and preferences.
Call an Experienced Shreveport Estate Planning Attorney at Greenwald Law Firm Today for Estate Planning Legal Services
If you are ready to begin planning your last will, the compassionate attorneys at the Greenwald Law Firm are ready to help. We understand that no one wants to think about death, but creating a will can ensure your family is cared for long after you’ve passed.