Wills: The Best Way to Protect Your Assets After You're Gone
Although it may be unpleasant to think about, it is important to make plans for what will happen to our assets after we’re gone. If you do not decide what happens to the things you own before your death, Louisiana law decides what happens to them after you pass away. There are, however, a number of methods to protect the things that you own, and to ensure that they are disposed of in the way that you wish. Preparing now protects your loved ones after you are gone.
If you die without leaving a will, you have no say in who inherits your property. In Louisiana, your property goes to your children, if you have any. All of the property not provided for by a will is divided equally among any children you have. No other parties, including your spouse, siblings, or parents will inherit your assets if you have children. If you do not have children, your assets are inherited by your parents and siblings upon your death. Your parents and siblings each receive an equal share of your property. Your spouse does not receive assets that are not included in a will unless you have no living children, no living parents, and no living siblings.
However, if your property is not inherited by your spouse, they are not totally left out in the cold. Louisiana law provides for what is known as an “890 Usufruct.” This gives the spouse of the deceased some rights to property that was community property, owned jointly by both spouses, and rights to property that is inherited without a will by the children of the decedent. A usufruct allows the surviving spouse to, among other things, use this property; for example, continuing to live in a house. It is important to remember that the surviving spouse does not own this property, and therefore may not sell it or take advantage of other ownership rights.
This inheritance scheme is not ideal, and many people would rather provide for their assets differently, especially in order to make sure that their spouse receives more of their property. This can be done by making a will. There are two types of wills in Louisiana: “olographic” and “notarial.” Olographic wills are valid if they are entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the person whose property the will covers. These wills have to be proven after the death of the person who made the will by having two witnesses identify the deceased’s handwriting. Notarial wills, unlike olographic wills, do not have to be proven if their format meets certain requirements. There are several types of notarial wills, which all have different requirements, but generally they must be signed by the person making the will in front of a notary public and two witnesses. Your attorney can help to advise you on the different types of wills and which type is best for you, as well as helping you to explore other options in order to make sure that your money goes where you want it to go after you have passed on.
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