It All Begins With A Will
In Louisiana, a valid Last Will and Testament is the only recognized document allowing you to direct how and to whom your estate is distributed after death. In addition to being notarized and witnessed, the Will needs to provide clear, unambiguous instructions for asset distribution. A well-written Will is also necessary to designate guardians for your minor children (called tutors in Louisiana) and protect property for your children in a trust. An estate plan begins with a Will.
A Will is designed for one thing – to be probated. Only then will your wishes be put into place. Probate in Louisiana is when we file your Will with the courts after you pass away. A notarial Last Will and Testament prepared by Field Law is the first step in this plan. Our Wills are drafted with a focus on ensuring an easy and efficient probate process.
The process of probate starts when you first meet with your estate attorney at Field Law. Your attorney will listen to your concerns and ask about your goals. You don’t need to gather any information you don’t know off the top of your head to prepare for this process.
The process of probate can be tedious, but not when you are prepared. Most of the issues we face during the succession process come from not having a Will and not being prepared. With a Field Law Will in place, we have been able to minimize costs and delays that clients associate with the probate and succession process.
The most common concern among our clients is who will inherit their property. Usually clients are worried that their choices can’t be carried out because of our laws. But with a Last Will and Testament from Field Law, there is very little that we cannot accomplish for you. Our job is to ensure your wishes and goals are carried out after you pass away.
The most important decision you will make with your Field Law estate attorney is deciding who will care for your minor children if you pass away. The good news is Louisiana law gives heavy weight to your choice. You will need to choose someone that not only has the temperament and structure to take on the responsibility of raising your children, but also someone that will protect the property you leave your children.
We often hear from potential clients that they assume their spouse will get everything and be able to make all the decisions when they pass away. Unfortunately, this is not the case unless you have a valid Last Will and Testament.
Only with the skill and recommendations of your Field Law estate attorney can you create a plan that allows your spouse, if you so choose, to make all the decisions concerning your estate’s administration. With a Will, you can also allow your spouse to manage your estate for the rest of their lives – but ensure your children get everything when your spouse passes away.
Of course, the beauty of working with a Field Law estate planning attorney is ensuring that your wishes are clear and lawfully carried out after you pass away. So, if you want your spouse to have full control, then that’s what will happen. If you don’t want that, we can also set up a system that accomplishes whatever your goals are.
Planning for probate doesn’t mean you can’t also use trusts to protect your loved ones. There are many benefits to adding a testamentary trust to your Will, just remember that the trust does not exist until your Will is probated after death.
Protecting Young Beneficiaries. While we sometimes have a loved one who is wise beyond their years, we often have one that is not. Ensuring that a beneficiary matures in the handling of their affairs before giving them full control of an inheritance is often a silver lining of a trust. An inheritance is not a lottery winning – it is something you have worked your whole life to build and it should not all be spent in six months.
Creditor Protection. You can ensure a loved one’s inheritance is protected from their creditors and from those that might manipulate them by holding everything in your spendthrift trust until they reach a certain age or for their life. This can be critical if your beneficiary has high-risk financial investments or has difficulty keeping up with their bills.
Mental Health. A trust also protects a loved one from themselves if they have proven to have immature financial skills or addiction issues. While it is never easy to recognize a loved one’s shortcomings, you can take the prudent and responsible step to ensure that the support you provide them now continues after you are gone.
Generational Gifts. One of the benefits of a trust is you can give property to a loved one for their life, then give it to someone else when they pass. Want to ensure your grandchildren inherit from you? You can leave property to your children, but then everything can transfer to only your grandchildren when your children pass away. You cannot do this with a Will itself.
Keeping it in the Family. With a trust, you can ensure that family property is kept in the family for generations to come – preventing it from being splintered or lost to a non-relative. Your trust can also provide a funding source to ensure the bills are paid and your family can enjoy their shared property without worry and without having to come out of pocket.
More Than Just A Will
It’s important to understand that while your estate plan begins with a Will, it does not end there. Too often we have been asked to probate a Will prepared on the internet or by a family friend and realize that the Will was not prepared correctly or that the executor did not have all the information they needed to ensure an efficient probate process.
At Field Law, we understand that what you want is not just a Will but the quick and efficient outcome a Will provides while avoiding fighting, arguing, delays and unexpected tax consequences that we hear about from friends and family.
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 and successions. To arrange a free consultation, call us at 225-341-8221, or get started.