Having a will is an essential step for everyone, regardless of the size of the estate or income level. Having a solid estate plan in place is about more than ensuring you have control over what happens to your stuff after your death, it is about providing security and peace of mind to your loved ones. If you do not have a will, you would be wise to take the necessary steps to get a plan into place.
I am not wealthy. Should I still have a will?
Yes, everyone should have a will. Estate planning is not a luxury reserved only for the wealthy, but is a step that is appropriate for anyone. A basic will can provide the following benefits:
- Allow you to designate a guardian for any minor children
- Decide how any assets will be given to beneficiaries
- Provide ability to instruct heirs on what to do with your home and any savings
- Allow you to appoint an administrator of your estate
- Minimize your loved ones' liability for estate taxes
One of the greatest benefits of drafting a will is the peace of mind that you can have knowing that your loved ones will be cared for and that you retain control over what happens to your hard-earned assets and money.
Dying without a will
If you die without a proper will, it can cause great complication for your loved ones. Louisiana has complex laws regarding estate planning. According to state procedure, spouses, siblings, children, nieces and nephews are all included in the order of inheritance. The only way to ensure that particular assets go to a specific person or to prevent a member of your family from getting a certain asset is to have a will.
Additionally, if you die without a will, a probate court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution and settling of your estate. This can be costly, and any expenses from this process will come out of your estate before your beneficiaries receive anything.
Other estate planning tools
Depending on the circumstances of your unique situation, you may also benefit from the protections provided by other estate planning tools. As you work on drafting a will, also consider your potential need for the following:
- A trust for the care of a special needs child
- Powers of attorney
- Medical directives
Having a will is a crucial step for every individual, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for estate planning. You will find great benefit in working with an attorney who can custom-tailor a plan suited to your needs and objectives.