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;
  4. Your spouse or legatees have become disabled; or
  5. 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

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How Often Should I Update My Will?

There is a large public misunderstanding that a will is something set in concrete, that doesn’t change and is to be signed and put away until death.  Yet, it is important for people to review and update their wills regularly. Outdated wills can lead to absurd and unintended consequences upon your death.

Relationships can change. Family members can die. You might divorce. You may find yourself close to one person one day and then have difficulties in that relationship. You may find yourself now closer to another family member.  Also, your estate can change. There are dramatic changes in a person’s property over time. If you keep an annual inventory, you will see marked changes every year when you go to update the inventory.

There are certain major life changes when people should review and revise their wills: If they are getting married, getting divorced, a person mentioned in the will has died, or adopted a child. These life changes will normally create significant revisions in a will.

Also, if you turn sixty-five (65), you will want to review your will. You will probably want to consider Medicaid planning, asset protection and probate avoidance in revising your will.

I normally recommend that people review their wills every four (4) years if none of the other events mentioned above occur. During a four (4) year time period, it is possible to see significant relationship or asset changes that may warrant a revision to your will.

If you have any questions concerning wills, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

 

 

I Moved to Louisiana And Have A Will Executed in Another State. Should I Get A New Will Done in Louisiana?

It is common for people to move to different states. Potential clients come to my office asking if it is necessary to execute a new will in Louisiana. The answer to the question is somewhat complex.

The legal answer is that the law does not require that you have a Louisiana will. The will of another state can be probated and recognized by a Louisiana Court. There is a special procedure under Louisiana law that allows heirs and legatees to have these out of state wills recognized legally.

The problem with out of state wills is that they are drafted according the laws of that other state. Louisiana law can be very different from other states. Terminology can be very different state to state. Also, certain legal concepts may exist in one and may either be very different or not exist in another.

Although Louisiana courts will attempt to comply with the wishes of the decedent in their out of state will, they still may be unable to implement the directions due to the difference in the law. Sometimes, it may be difficult to implement the intent because there is no such legal concept under Louisiana law.

It is advisable that you have your out of state will examined by a Louisiana attorney to determine whether you need to have a Louisiana will drafted and executed to make sure your intentions are recognized and implemented.

If you have any questions concerning wills, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

Putting Off Getting A Will till You Fly? Think Again!

 

One of the biggest things that motivates people to our law firm to engage in estate planning or updating their wills is when they go on an airplane trip. The thoughts to traveling high in the air in a large aircraft scares people into executing wills and powers of attorney. The perception is that flying is very dangerous. However, human perception is sometimes not based in reality.

 

What is your probability of dying in a commercial airplane crash? According to statistics, you have a one in 3.5 million chance of being involved in a commercial airplane crash where at least one person dies (not necessarily you).

 

In comparison, statistics show that you have a one in 100,000 chance of dying in an automobile accident. That’s right. You are at least 35 times more likely to die riding in a car accident today than if you got on a commercial aircraft.

 

So, what is the moral of the story? Instead of waiting to estate plan when you are taking a trip on a plane, you should be much more worried about estate planning today if you are riding in a car. One should not put off estate planning or the execution of powers of attorney. Our health and/or capacity is not guaranteed. Plan today!

 

If you have any questions about wills, estate planning or powers of attorney, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

Kent S. DeJean

What Is A Living Will?

A living will is probably the most misnamed legal document.It has nothing to do with “living” and it’s not a “will”.

To put it bluntly, it is a directive to be allowed to die. A person that signs a living will is declaring that they be allowed to die if certain facts are present.  In Louisiana, euthanasia is illegal. Certain elements have to all be met before a living will becomes effective.  The required elements are as follows:

  1. The person must have an incurable injury, disease or illness
  2. This injury, disease or illness must be certified to be a terminal and irreversible condition by two (2) physicians (one of whom is the treating physician of that person) who have personally examined the person

 

  1. The physicians must determine that my death will occur whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized; and

 

  1. The application of life-sustaining procedures would serve only to prolong the dying process artificially

If all of these elements are met, the person may direct that all life-sustaining procedures be withheld or withdrawn. The person can also express a directive as to whether to allow food and water to be administered invasively if all the above elements are met.

The most common example of where all these required elements are met is if a person is in an incurable coma and whose life is being artificially prolonged by the use of a respirator.

A person interested in executing a living will, powers of attorney and a will, should consult an experienced estate planning attorney.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Don’t Delay in Getting A Powers of Attorney!

It is very common for people to put off executing powers of attorney. In fact, recent studies show that 80% of adults do not have an executed power of attorney. Most people think that powers of attorneys are for people that are sick or old.

In the real world, none of us are guaranteed capacity even today. An accident or health issue can take our mental or physical capacity away from us quickly without prior warning. We would be unable to take care of our own person and property. No one can predict when a person will lose capacity.

The execution of a valid durable powers of attorney is relatively quick, easy and fast. When a person fails to plan in advance, that person is “playing with fire”. Many learn the lesson the hard way. They wait until it is too late.  The family may be unable to get the power of attorney executed because the person has lost capacity. The family may have the person sign a power of attorney where capacity is an issue. This can lead to family disputes and/or challenges to the document.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, living wills and advanced medical directives, you should 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