Even if you already have a Will or other important Estate Planning documents like Powers of Attorney, it may be time for an update. The estate laws in Louisiana are constantly changing and it is essential that you keep abreast of these changes so you can ensure that your estate planning documents grant your family the full rights allowable under Louisiana law. Our firm has encountered many families who sat back with Wills and Powers of attorney drawn up 20 years ago, and their powers of attorney were rejected because they were too old or their Louisiana successions were riddled with added complications because the old wills failed to allow for the full heirship and usufruct rights currently allowed under the law.
In just the past 10 years, changes to our usufruct laws have given spouses greater rights with respect to the property left by a deceased spouse. These rights include the power to donate or otherwise dispose of property over which they hold usufruct. These rights must be expressly granted in a will, and almost all wills do not include language granting these rights because those rights weren’t available when the will was drafted.
Also, designation of “independent” will executors has become an almost necessary aspect of Louisiana Estate Planning since 1997. Independent administration/executorship allows your executor to act with respect to your property after your death without seeking court approval. This lets your executor easily sell property or pay expenses on behalf of your estate.
Finally, your grant of power of attorney may be dishonored if your documents are too old, so it is always a good idea to refresh those documents every 5 to 10 years. If you become incapacitated with a power of attorney that is stale, then your agent cannot act on your behalf and take care of your property without having you declared incompetent by a court, and such proceedings are time consuming and fraught with headaches.
Monitoring your estate plan moving forward is the best way to safeguard your family and take full advantage of the laws in place. If you have Estate planning documents drafted over 5 years ago, now is a good time to reevaluate those document and make sure they are current and accurate. If you are in New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, LaPlace, Mandeville, Covington, Slidell, and all points in between and have any questions about your Estate Planning legal documents, call me at (504) 274-1980.