Putting an estate plan together doesn't have to be difficult to do, but it does require some thought and care. Estate planning is about making sure one is properly protected in the event of incapacitation, and ensuring wishes are known and assets are passed on to the appropriate parties upon one's death. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things people in Louisiana and elsewhere believe about estate planning that keep them from getting it done or creating plans that are in line with what they really want.
Recently lose a loved one? If so, you likely have a million questions about what it is going to take to close out his or her estate. One common question is: Do all assets have to pass through the Louisiana probate process? The simplistic answer to that question is no, but when is anything ever simple?
After losing a loved one, the process of closing out his or her estate can be confusing — especially for those who have never done it before or who are unfamiliar with Louisiana probate laws. It is normal to have questions about how everything works and what one might be left responsible for. For example, some may be confused about who has to pay off their loved one's debt. Is this a burden surviving family members have to bear?
Many Louisiana residents do not have estate plans in place. Those who die without a will are said to have died intestate. Who will inherit the property of these estates will be determined by intestate succession laws. Probate is typically necessary to ensure these laws are followed.
Louisiana residents who take the time to go through the estate planning process do so for several reasons. They want to protect themselves should they become incapacitated, but they also want to make life easier on their loved ones when they die. The probate process is certainly much easier for beneficiaries to get through when an estate plan is up to date.
After a loved one passes away, figuring out what exactly needs to be done to close out his or her estate can be confusing. The probate process, in particular, can prove challenging to get through. There are certain steps that have to be taken in a specific order before an estate can be distributed to beneficiaries. Here are a few things one can expect to happen when going through the probate process in the state of Louisiana.
No one really wants to spend time thinking about end-of-life matters, or what would happen to themselves or their families if they were to become incapacitated. So, many people in Louisiana and elsewhere put it off until later in life or until it is too late altogether. There is no one perfect time to create an estate plan. The time to prepare an estate plan is now, no matter what stage of adulthood one is in.
When all of a couple's assets are jointly owned and one spouse dies, the surviving spouse gets everything, right? So why go through the probate process? Probate may seem like a waste of time to some in Louisiana and elsewhere, but it has its purpose. Putting it off or not probating an estate at all can have consequences down the line.
When a parent dies, the estate administration process can be a difficult thing to get through. It can be even more challenging if a stepmother is involved. Far too often, in Louisiana and elsewhere, stepmothers are accused of keeping their husband's assets for themselves and then passing them on to their own children rather than giving them to their stepchildren. When this happens, probate litigation may be the only way the offended parties may see any part of their supposed inheritance.
There is a lot to think about when going through the estate planning process. Most Louisiana residents who take the time to do it probably spend all their time worrying about what protections they need and what to include that they forget one small but significant detail -- where to store their documents when all is said and done. The simple truth is, estate plans that cannot be found do not do any good when it comes time for one's estate to go through probate.