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What is a Last Will and Testament

 

A Louisiana Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their children’s inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representative—or co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)—to manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedent’s debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedent’s property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usually—in most states—means it must be properly witnessed, as well—not just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedent’s debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedent’s heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedent’s property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Louisiana Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they don’t, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Louisiana free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Will in Louisiana

The Last Will and Testament document is a paper created by those citizens who want to make sure that their assets after their death will be distributed in strict accordance with their will. The document, often notarized with the lawyer, becomes legit proof of the necessity to follow the Last Will and Testament law. For different states in the USA, however, the rules are different. In some states, for example, an oral version of the Last Will is also a countable document and has to be considered at the inheritance procedure. But for Louisiana, this is not the case — in this state, the Last Will has to be written or printed to become legal. Also, the paper in Louisiana has to be signed not only by the testator (the person who creates the Last Will document) but also by two independent witnesses who are not considered as the inheritors (to ensure their impartiality). After that, the paper has to be notarized (verified, witnessed, registered) with the lawyer at the corresponding establishment.

In any case, every Last Will document has to include the section about the representatives. Representatives are people chosen by the decedent before his/her death (the term “decedent” is legit and is used in the official documents) who will be responsible for the appropriate distribution of the property of the deceased person. The decedent can choose either one or more representatives — they are also referred to as the “executors.” The executors have to make sure that all the debts of a decedent are paid with the private property of the latter and that the remaining property is distributed between the heirs in a proper way.

If it happens that the deceased person does not prepare a Last Will document in advance, the court chooses the representative for oneself. These might be family members (often a spouse or an adult child), other relatives, or close friends. In this case, the chosen executor automatically becomes responsible for the aforementioned procedures.

If the deceased person has children, a necessary point in the Last Will document will be the statement of the guardians. The guardians are people, usually, the closest surrounding of the deceased, who become responsible for the child or children who cannot take care of themselves due to their age (under 18). Choosing a guardian, one has to think carefully and make a wise decision — the potential guardian should better have established positive relationships with the child (ren), be responsible and trustworthy.

The testator also has to prepare a list of private property that will later be transferred to the heirs. The list of the heirs must also be prepared in advance.

Each Last Will and Testament document, to become legal, has to include thus the following points:

  • The list of representatives (or one representative) and the required information about them

  • The list of guardians (or one guardian) and the required information about them

  • The list of assets, in detail

  • The list of inheritors with the concrete description of property distributions

  • The testator’s signature

  • The witnessess’ signatures

  • Verification and registration by the lawyer

It is strongly recommended to keep the document in a well-protected place, like the safe deposit, to make sure no faking crimes are possible.

 

 

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