Over the years, I’ve met many Louisiana couples who are not married for one reason or another. It amazes me how often these couples have no form of estate planning in place. These couples clearly care for one another and don’t want to make life more complicated for one another in the future. By not taking the simple step of creating an estate plan they set each other up for a nightmare. In the event either partner dies or becomes incapacitated, the other partner has no legal rights when it comes to the assets, medical decisions, and burial decisions for their partner.
Unlike some other states, Louisiana does not recognize common law marriage. This means when one partner dies without a will or trust, the other partner has no right to the deceased partner’s estate. The estate will instead pass to the deceased partner’s closest living family members. Those family members are under no obligation to give anything to the surviving partner. Additionally, the next of kin for the deceased partner has the sole right to make all burial decisions for the deceased partner. The cemetery or funeral home won’t even talk to the surviving partner.
By establishing the following legal documents, you will ensure that everything happens the way you want, minimizing stress and anguish for your partner:
- Louisiana Last Will and Testament and/or Living Trust – These documents form the basis of your estate plan. They outline who your heirs will be, when your heirs will receive their portions, and who will oversee the settlement of your estate.
- Louisiana Financial/Property Power of Attorney – This document allows your partner or another designated agent to sign for you and make financial and legal decisions for you in the event you are alive but otherwise incapacitated.
- Louisiana Medical Power of Attorney – This document allows your partner or another designated agent to sign for you and make medical decisions for you in the event you are alive but otherwise incapacitated.
- Louisiana Declaration of Interment – This document allows your partner to have the final say when it comes to making final arrangements for your funeral, burial, or cremation.
If you and your partner have not yet thought about estate planning, you may want to start now. The estate planning process can be quick and efficient with the right attorney. Proper planning will pay major dividends for you and your partner in the event of death or incapacity. If you and your partner want to learn more about your Estate Planning options under Louisiana Law, call Legacy Law Center at (504) 274-1980 in Metairie, New Orleans, and surrounding areas or call (985) 246-3020 in Mandeville, Covington, Slidell, Houma, and Thibodaux.