Often, the main rational for estate planning is to assure that the client
is able to pass his or her property to the heirs of his or her choosing.
While minimizing estate income taxes and reducing probate costs are certainly
components of this planning, they should not be the sole focus nor the
sole determining facts for the plan that is put into place. The most important
tool in the estate planning process is a well drafted will.
The reason why we need a will begins with the need to provide for an orderly
disposition of your estate. Subject to forced heirship restrictions in
Louisiana, a will can allow you to determine to whom your property is
distributed. Orderly disposition includes the naming of an executor and
the waiving of the requirement of posting bond. The executor is given
the right to allocate assets in accordance with your wishes. The will
also allows you to make specific or personalized bequests.
You may wish to provide for the special needs of your children. Anyone
who has children who do not have the maturity to handle their affairs
needs to protect those children from the world and themselves. If the
children are below eighteen years of age, the will would name a tutor
or guardian for these minor children to raise and care for them. Any monetary
bequests to these children would be left in trust, with an individual
or institution named as trustee to handle all of the financial needs of
those children. For children with special problems or handicaps, that
are either receiving governmental benefits or could potentially receive
governmental benefits, proper planning through the use of a Special Needs
Trust is essential.
In today’s society with its high divorce rate, providing for and
protecting children from prior marriages has become common place. Most
divorced spouses do not want their minor children, who would be controlled
by their ex-spouses, to inherit their property directly. A Testamentary
Trust is essential in such cases.
Wills can also serve to defer or eliminate federal estate taxes. Fully
utilizing the $675,000.00 unified credit for each of the spouses, while
maintaining possession and control to the surviving spouse, is a common
goal. Wills also insure that the marital deduction is fully utilized to
defer taxes until the second death for estates which exceed the total
of both the spouses unified credit.
The drafting of a will is simple, inexpensive and a necessity for almost everyone.