Estate Planning, Probate, & Successions
Estate Planning, Probate, & Successions
Goff & Goff Attorneys, P.C. is committed to helping Louisiana individuals and families plan for their future. We understand that each family is unique and that estate planning is more than a set of instructions that tells the government who your property should go to after your death. Our Estate planning is the process is designed to understand your unique situation and goals and create a plan to pass your wealth, wisdom and values to your loved ones in the most efficient way possible.
By working with Goff & Goff Attorneys, P.C. you can be confident that your estate plan will be current, take advantage of the latest planning opportunitues, and address your goals using an approach that makes sense to you and a strategy that you can be confident in.
Through experience, we have developed a process that takes the time to understand your unique goals and concerns, the unique dynamics of your family, and your goals for your family’s future. Once we listen and understand your goals, a typically estate plan includes a Revocable Living Trust, Pour Over Will, Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive to document our clients’ wishes.
Whether you are looking to create your estate plan for the first time or to update your existing plan, Goff & Goff Attorneys can help you create your comprehensive and personalized estate plan, providing you peace of mind that your wishes will be followed. Contact us today to begin planning for your future.
How do I make a will?
A will, which is a method of disposing of all or part of your property at death, may be made in one of several forms provided by Louisiana law.All wills are required to be in a certain format and must contain certain language before they are valid.In Louisiana, the simplest form is the “olographic will,” which is written, dated, and signed in your own handwriting and contain the legally required “buzzwords.” Other forms of wills do not have to be written out by you by hand, but do require witnesses and other legal formalities before they are valid.
BEWARE of internet sites purporting to draft valid wills for you. Louisiana law is different from all other states, and a will drafted “over the internet,” though valid in most states, may not at all be valid in Louisiana. You should always have a will reviewed by an attorney licensed in Louisiana before you rely on it.
Can anyone make a will?
Anyone over sixteen years of age and of sound mind may make a will.
Can my spouse and I make a will together?
No. A will may be made by one person only. But you and your spouse may make separate wills at the same time.
Doesn't the law provide for the distribution of my property?
Yes. But you may prefer distributing your property in another matter. For example, in most cases you can leave your spouse by will more than he or she will inherit without a will.
Can my will dispose of all of my property?
Yes. But your property is only one-half of the total community property plus all of your separate property. Your spouse has the sole right to dispose of the other one-half of the community by a separate will. Some property, such as life insurance proceeds, do not usually pass by will. They usually pass by the terms of the contract. Additionally, in some circumstances, Louisiana law restricts your ability to leave your children out of your will.
Are there any limitations on how I may leave my property?
Yes. There are a number of technical limitations which you should discuss with your lawyer before writing a will.Your children may be “forced heirs” entitled to a certain percentage of your estate regardless of what you put in your will. Also, many types of dispositions (for example, where you want to substitute another benefactor when the first one dies, are invalid and there are many restrictions on what can be done with a trust, although a trust set up in conjunction with your will can often give you more flexibility.
Does a will increase estate expenses?
Sometimes probate expenses are saved by a will; sometimes not.Probating a will entails a small extra expense. But, if any administrator is needed, there are extra costs in appointing an administrator when there is no will, as opposed to appointing an executor named in the will.
How long does a will last?
For life or until it is revoked by the writer. The writer of a will may expressly revoke it. The writer could also write a later will, which in some circumstances will revoke the prior will.
Where should I keep my will?
In any safe place. Always let someone close to you know where you keep your will so that it can be located as soon as it is needed. Your lawyer may be willing to hold a copy of your will for you.
How much does a will cost?
Lawyers usually charge for wills on a basis of time spent in preparing them.
How much property must I own to need a will?
If you own any property, you have an estate. Certainly if you own your home, even though it is heavily mortgaged, you should consider carefully whether your circumstances make it wise to write a will.
How and where will my estate be handled?
You may appoint in your will an attorney to handle your estate. If you do not appoint an attorney, your executor will choose one, if you do not appoint an executor, your survivors will choose an attorney to represent your estate. Your estate proceedings will be filed in the Court of the Parish in which you are domiciled at the time of your death.
What about taxes?
Your lawyer or tax adviser can advise you about estate and inheritance taxes which your heirs will owe, and may be able to suggest ways to plan for the payment of the taxes and to dispose of your property in a will that will reduce the tax bite. Most people will not have to pay federal estate taxes.
Are there any advantages in making a will?
In many instances there are advantages in making a will. Some of these are:
(1) Subject to certain limitations, you can dispose of your property as you see fit.
(2) You can appoint an executor and an attorney of your own choosing who will handle your estate;
(3) You can plan the distribution of your estate so as to get the maximum tax benefits.
(4) You can, in many instances, lessen the costs of settling your estate.
(5) Property that will be inherited by young people or other persons not competent to handle the property can be placed in trust for them.
(6) You can name a person to take care of your minor children if your spouse does not survive you.
After I have made a will should I change it?
You will should be kept up to date with existing conditions and your attorney should be consulted whenever a change occurs. Changes in the tax laws, in your own financial situation, and in your own personal relationships may well dictate the modifications of your will. To properly plan your estate you should always keep abreast of the changing conditions, whether personal or otherwise.
How can I tell whether I should make a will?
You should consult an attorney for the answers to this question. He will be in a position to advise you fully on this matter.
Planning your financial affairs is a very personal and individual matter.Each individual should decide for himself or herself the general purposes he wantsto accomplish. Only then can your advisors properly plan how to accomplish these ends.
The following are four practical steps in planning your affairs which, if approached conscientiously, will save time and facilitate sound results:
(1) Inventory Your Assets.List in reasonable detail all your property , including debts and obligations.
(2) List Your Relatives and those whom you wish to participate in your estate.
(3) Decide What You Want to Accomplish.What are your objectives, and to whom you wish your assets distributed?
(4) Then Meet With Your Lawyer and other advisors to work out the details and to prepare the necessary documents.
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