Wills Are Not Secrets!

One of the popular public myths is that wills are a big secret. From a practical stand point, this is not entirely accurate.

The fact that you have a will should not be a secret.

What is contained in the will can be a secret.

You should be very public about the fact that you have a will and where the will is located to those persons, who are named in the will.

You can be so secretive to the point that no one can find it. That defeats the whole purpose of having a will.

If you have any questions about wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

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Who Will Make the Decision Whether I Die If I Have No Living Will?

Living wills are important legal documents. A living will gives the person signing it, the power to stop any life sustaining procedure if that person has an incurable non-treatable illness or disease in which the life sustaining procedure only artificially prolongs life.  Two doctors (one of whom is the treating doctor) must certify that all of the above elements or met.

In the event that a person doesn’t have a living will, the decision to allow the person to die under the above circumstances will be left to other person family members if the person dying loses capacity.

The following is the descending order of classes of persons that will make decisions concerning the patient’s death if there is no living will.

First, A person designated by the patient to make the decision in a written document.

Secondly, the patient’s court appointed tutor or curator;

Thirdly, the patient’s spouse not legally separated;

Next, the patient’s children;

Next, the patient’s parents; and

Next, the patient’s siblings; and finally,

The patient’s other ascendants or descendants.

It is important to remember that if there is any one in a class, the decision is made by person(s) in that class. If there are no person(s) in that higher class, the decision is made by the next class and so forth and so on.

It is also important to known that the decision making is not democratic. If any person in the class objects to the artificial technology being removed, it will not be removed to allow the patient to die.

If you have any questions about living wills, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Kent S. DeJean

 

 

Do I Need An Attorney To Prepare My Will?

The legal answer is no. There is no law that requires that you hire an attorney to draft your will.

However, there are several bad things that can happen if you don’t.

Louisiana law requires that wills be in certain forms. If the will you write is not in proper form, the court will not recognize it.

The language you use in your self-prepared will may be imprecise. The language you use may be confusing or open to different interpretations. This may make your self-prepared will subject to being litigated or contested by your heirs and/or legatees.

What you are providing for in your will may not be allowed by state law or does not exist under state law. The court may be unable to comply with what you want to do in your will because it is prohibited.

Your will may not provide for contingencies (“What If’s”?). Without legal representation, you may not be aware of things that can happen that will change who you want to get your estate.

If you have any questions about wills, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

 

Video Taping The Execution Of A Will

Under Louisiana law, there is no legal requirement that the execution of a will be video taped. Further, there is no such thing as a video will. Louisiana law has specific form requirements for wills. Video taped wills is not one of those approved forms.

However, video taping of wills may be very useful in certain limited situations. Let’s say that it is anticipated that the capacity of the person executing the will may be contested in the subsequent succession. This would be a situation where it would be useful to video tape the execution of the will.

Video taping would show that the person executing the will understood what it meant, consented to the will and was under no duress. It would also be helpful to interview the person executing the will by asking open ended questions about why the bequests were made as well as to show capacity.

So video taping is not a will in and of itself. However, it can provide valuable evidence to show that the person executing the will possessed legal capacity to sign it.

Should you have any questions on wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Will I Owe Louisiana State Inheritance Taxes?

The answer to whether you will owe estate taxes in a Louisiana succession, is probably no.

Under Louisiana law, there are no inheritance taxes for estates of persons that died after June 20, 2004.

There are also no inheritance taxes for estates of persons that died on or before June 20, 2004 as long as an inheritance tax return was not filed before July 1, 2008.

It is unclear whether estates of persons that died on or before June 20, 2004, which filed an inheritance tax return before July 1, 2008 will owe estate taxes.

If you have any questions on successions, contact an experienced estate attorney. Kent S. DeJean

How Do I Change My Will?

It is important that you do not change your will by handwriting corrections on the original executed document. These changes may or may not be enforced by a Louisiana court if it is found that you have not followed specific form requirements.

You should not give verbal instructions of your changes to relatives or friends. Verbal wills or changes are not recognized under Louisiana law.

If you do have changes to your will, you should contact an attorney. This will insure that your intentions will declared legally.

You should execute another will revoking the previously executed will that you wish to change. You can also execute a codicil which is an short will adding or deleting provisions of the original will. However, it is very important to remember that these documents must follow specific form requirements. If they are not executed in the proper form, they will not be recognized or enforced by the court.

If you have any questions, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Do I Need An Attorney To Prepare My Will?

The legal answer is no. There is no law that requires that you hire an attorney to draft your will.

However, there are several bad things that can happen if you don’t.

Louisiana law requires that wills be in certain forms. If the will you write is not in proper form, the court will not recognize it.

The language you use in your self prepared will may be imprecise. The language you use may be confusing or open to different interpretations. This may make your self prepared will subject to being litigated or contested by your heirs and/or legatees.

What you are providing for in your will may not be allowed by state law or does not exist under state law. The court may be unable to comply with what you want to do in your will because it is prohibited .

Your will may not provide for contingencies (“What If’s”?). Without legal representation, you may not be aware of things that can happen that will change who you want to get your estate.

If you have any questions about wills, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Reasons To Update Your Will

It is important to remember that persons shouldn’t just execute their wills, store them and not worry about them. Wills should always be updated. Otherwise, there can be an absurd result regarding your estate when you die if your will hasn’t been updated.

The following are some examples of significant events in your life for which you should consult an attorney to update your will:

1. You got married;
2. Someone named in your will has died;
3. You had a child;
3. Your spouse or legatees have become disabled; or
4. You got divorced.

Even if no significant events in your life have occurred, it is still good practice to meet with your attorney every five (5) years to update your will. The reason you should regularly consult with your attorney regarding updating your will, is that your assets can significantly change even in a brief period of time. Also, your relationships can change significantly over time. If your assets or relationships have changed, you may want to update your will to change who gets what.

If you have any questions regarding updating your will, you should consult an experienced estate attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Don’t Wait for a Long Trip to Prepare Your Will

Many clients that come to my office to have our office prepare their wills, are often times motivated by the fact they are getting ready to take an overseas flight. They are afraid that something bad will happen to them on the long flight.

What is your chance of dying on a commercial air flight? The chance of dying in a commercial air flight is only 1 in 11 million.

What is your chances of dying in a car accident this year? Your odds of dying in a car accident this year is approximately 1 in 8,000.

So what is the moral of the story? The moral of the story is that you have a lot more to be worried about driving home to day than you do of taking that commercial air flight. You should be doing estate planning today rather than waiting till you take a long trip.

If you have any questions concerning wills or powers of attorney, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean