What should I consider when planning my estate in Louisiana?

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Answered by: R. Scott Buhrer

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There are several resources and tools to consider in estate planning. In a will, you can name an executor, avoid intestacy, designate beneficiaries and reduce administration expenses. With a trust, you can establish certain rules to protect your beneficiaries and permit your trustee to make discretionary distributions. In addition to a will or trust, you should also consider executing a general and medical power of attorney. In a general power of attorney, you can select the person who will handle your financial affairs if you are unable to. With a medical power of attorney, you can designate a person to make medical decisions on your behalf and communicate your wishes if you are unable to.

A Will Gives You Greater Control And Protects Your Beneficiaries

A will gives you the ability to decide who will handle your estate and inherit your assets. In a will, you can name an independent executor and designate beneficiaries ahead of time. Without a will, beneficiaries will be determined under the default provisions of the law. The creation of a will can streamline the administration process and the determination of lawful heirs. In addition, a will gives you the opportunity to provide further instructions on things such as burial and funeral preferences and designate certain types of personal property to named individuals. This can prevent conflict among your beneficiaries regarding things such as family heirlooms or other items of sentimental value.

A Trust Safeguards Your Privacy And Your Beneficiaries’ Inheritance

Probate proceedings are public, often time-consuming and expensive. Some people do not want their affairs to be made public and execute trusts to preserve their privacy. Not only can a trust protect you and your family’s privacy, but it can speed up the asset distribution process and provide your beneficiaries with financial stability. In a trust, you can determine when your beneficiaries will receive the principal and grant your trustee discretionary powers. These powers permit your trustee to make other distributions at their discretion, typically related to a beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support. 

A General Power Of Attorney Establishes A Financial Plan

A general power of attorney ensures that your financial affairs will be handled by a person of your choice if you are unable or unwilling to do so. If you are incapacitated and do not have a power of attorney, there will be a court proceeding to establish guardianship or conservatorship. The interdiction process can be expensive, typically ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 due to the seriousness of the matter. By designating an agent ahead of time, you may be able to save your estate and family members’ money. A power of attorney also ensures that your bills will be paid if you are incapacitated.

A Medical Power Of Attorney Gives You A Say In Your Medical Decisions

A medical power of attorney, also known as a living will, allows you to designate a health care agent who can make health care decisions on your behalf. You can provide legally binding instructions that the agent must follow and express your end-of-life wishes. A living will gives you the opportunity to decide on health care decisions such as the type of treatment you will receive, where you will receive care and your religious beliefs. Without a living will, your spouse or children may have to make difficult medical decisions on their own. Your kids may disagree on the types of treatment you should receive. A medical power of attorney can give your family with guidance and prevent conflict.

There are certain procedures that must be followed when it comes to estate planning. An estate planning attorney knows the laws and can help to ensure your documents are valid. Without the guidance of an experienced lawyer, you may fall into common pitfalls and traps that will cost you money and time to rectify. We never know what will happen in the future. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to start planning today.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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