Louisianans might put off creating an estate plan for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are younger and do not think it is a priority. They may not have significant assets or property valuable enough that they believe a will is necessary. Or they might not want to admit that life is finite and it is wise to be prepared for the future. Still, there are profound negatives that accompany dying without a will (technically referred to as dying intestate). These can be mitigated by creating a basic estate plan.
A will can detail how property is distributed after a person’s death. It can also avoid rancor and disagreements among the heirs. Knowing the order of inheritance could be a sufficient catalyst for a person to craft a will. The laws state how property is handled if the person dies intestate. Dying intestate could lead to various properties being given to people the person does not want to have them. The designation of the property – whether it is community or separate – will play a role in how it is distributed without a will.
Community property will be distributed as follows and in order: to the children or the children’s descendants with the surviving spouse having the right to use it; without children, it goes to the surviving spouse; if there is no surviving spouse, the estate will subsequently be considered separate property and be distributed as such. Separate property will be distributed as follows: to the children or their descendants; to siblings or their descendants if the siblings are deceased; to the parents; to the spouse; to grandparents; to the nearest living relative; and to the state.
The fundamental point to remember about estate planning is that it is an individualized document that will suit the needs and desires of the testator. This is true whether there is a small estate, a large estate or anywhere in between. To simply ignore a will or other estate planning document removes all control from the testator’s hands. Avoiding this and ensuring the desired heirs get the properties in the way the testator sees fit requires preparation. Having experienced advice in these matters might be key.