The need for “estate planning” is often dismissed by individuals as being a luxury which can only be utilized by the wealthy. However, anyone who owns any property has need for at least some knowledge of estate planning in order to determine who will receive his or her property at the time of death. The term “estate planning” is not restricted to planning or drafting of wills for individuals who will have a federal estate tax consequence at death. “Estate planning”, when used in its broadest sense, is necessary for the husband and wife who want to leave as much as they can to their surviving spouse for that surviving spouse’s economic well-being and protection. It is also necessary for the young husband and wife who have several children, a house with a large mortgage, a small savings, and life insurance. Estate planning is also necessary for the single individual with no children who desires to distribute his or her property in a manner different from the statutory course. Do not let the term “estate planning” fool you. It applies to each of us in some form or fashion.
The purpose of this summary is to provide you with some information and education with respect to estate planning in Louisiana. This summary is not all encompassing but is intended to give you the basics with regard to Louisiana law and certain aspects of federal law as those laws affect estate planning. You should, of course, consult your legal advisor with respect to any specific legal question.
There are two fundamental objectives which can lead to successful estate planning. The individual interested in estate planning should provide his or her advisor with all pertinent family, business, and financial information so that the advisor can grasp an accurate picture of the circumstances relating to the individual. Second, the individual should generally understand the nature of the estate plan and how it will work. If these two objectives can be accomplished, then a workable estate plan can result.
In examining this summary, you will encounter many new terms. Every effort will be made to define those terms throughout.