A Last Will and Testament is an important legal document a person can create during his lifetime. With a valid will, a person can legally determine how their property will be distributed and to whom upon death. It allows a person to choose how his legatees will receive those assets, appoint who will become the tutors for their minor children, and select who they want to distribute the proceeds of the estate according to the terms of the will.
When a person dies without a valid will, hey are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. When this happens, the beneficiaries cannot dispute the court’s distribution of that person’s estate under the intestacy laws. Even if that person expressed different wishes verbally during their lifetime the statutes control the distribution. It is unlikely that the state’s plan is what is truly in the best interests of your heirs and loved ones. Sit down with an attorney as soon as possible to be sure your wishes are carried out. When you meet with your attorney, bring a list of your assets and debts. Give some thought as to who you want to receive your assets. Pay special attention to items of sentimental value such as family heirlooms that you may want to transfer to a specific person.
Oftentimes in the digital age, some people choose to create their own will by using a generic form on the Internet or by following the advice of a company not based in Louisiana. Doing this can defeat the purpose of creating a will because the court may determine that the laws used to create the will at that time were outdated or incorrect, the will is invalid and not sufficient to leave property at death, and the will is unenforceable.
When a person dies with or without a will in Louisiana, the estate must be administered through the succession process to determine what happens to the deceased person’s property and assets. When disputes arise during both testate and intestate successions, it is important to have attorney representation.
Common disputes involve:
- A handwritten or multiple wills
- Questionable changes to a will
- Competency and lack of capacity issues
- An accusation of undue influence
- Disputes among successors and beneficiaries/will disputes
The death of a loved one does not have to bring difficulty and expense. An experienced attorney can help guide surviving family members through the process and protect their rights. A “succession” is the wrapping up of the financial affairs of the decedent. This includes locating and identifying assets, paying estate debts, notifying heirs and beneficiaries, and disbursing property and assets to the intended heirs.
A succession should occur regardless of whether the decedent left a will. Whether surviving family members must open a small succession, be granted simple possession, or have the Last Will and Testament probated for simple possession will depend on the value of your estate and whether the decedent left a will. The succession process usually takes place during a time of distress when family members and friends are dealing with the loss of their loved one. Working with a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney can help move the process along.
Cornish Law LLC provides an added benefit to its clients by locating absent heirs and legatees. Quite often, relatives are unable to locate heirs and legatees so that they can receive their portion of the estate. We go above and beyond to find absent heirs and legatees to offer the most comprehensive and complete successions services available.