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Who Needs a Will?

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.