Many of the difficult probate and succession issues you will hear about stem from blended families. A blended family is a family consisting of a couple and their children from this and/or previous relationships. Blended families often have situations that are not anticipated by our intestate laws.
Without a Last Will and Testament or Probate Avoidance Trust, Louisiana intestate laws control who gets what and what rights belong to your spouse and children. These laws are clunky and sometimes difficult to enforce, which often leads to succession litigation and expensive settlements.
The good news is that with a Last Will and Testament or Probate Avoidance Trust drafted by your Field Law estate planning attorney, you can avoid these common issues and plan for an efficient asset transfer process.
Rights of Stepparents and Stepchildren
Conflicts often rise between stepparents and stepchildren – often not out of malice – but out of competing interests to protect the rights of one and respect the rights of the other. This can happen during your incapacitation or after your passing.
During incapacitation, a stepparent may wish to move to consolidate their control over your estate but in doing so may trample over the concerns of your children, prompting them to file to interdict you through the court system.
With clear mandates (called powers of attorney in other states)in place, you can ensure not only that your spouse and children know who you want to make decisions for you, but actions are taken more openly and all your loved ones are protected by the fiduciary laws which require transparency and good faith.
After death, stepparents have limited rights under our intestate laws, but with a Will or Trust, you can fix that. Generally, one of our goals of estate planning is to prevent disruption for the surviving spouse. But without a Will or Trust, a stepparent can be evicted or be forced to provide a commercial surety bond.
With a Will or Trust, you get to make the rules. For example, we can allow your spouse to inherit from you in full or allow your spouse to have full control over all your property but have to turn it over to your children when he or she passes away. You have to rights to leave certain property to your spouse and certain to your children. You can leave only the earnings of your investment portfolio to your spouse but preserve the principal balance for your children.
But most importantly, with a Last Will and Testament or Probate Avoidance Trust, you can avoid many of the common sources for succession litigation and personal disputes between your loved ones.
Contact Us For A Free Initial Consultation
Field Law is based in Baton Rouge, but we serve clients throughout Louisiana. We are also pleased to work with clients outside the state on matters related to Louisiana estate law. To arrange a free consultation, call us at 225-341-8221, or send us an email.