During a recent speaking engagement, a gentleman posed the question to me, “How many people are living without a will?” I was taken aback by this question because I honestly did not know the answer. I have spent all my time preaching the importance of having proper Estate Planning, but didn’t realize how high the level of need is for professional estate services. When I got home, I immediately checked to see if I could find any statistics to indicate the number of Americans without a will, and the results were surprising.
According to studies performed in 2007 and 2008 by Martindale-Hubble and FindLaw.com, between 55% and 60% of American adults do not have any will in place. I imagine this results from a lack of awareness as to the importance of proper planning and denial as to your ultimate death.
In Louisiana particularly, the failure to leave a will could lead to unwanted results. When people die without a will in the Louisiana, all of their property is distributed according to the rules of intestacy. In most other states the surviving spouse takes the property first, but not in Louisiana. The rules first give all property to any descendants you have, this includes children and grandchildren whose parent (your child) died before you. The descendants take to the exclusion of all other heirs. Next, property goes to your siblings to the exclusion of all others if you have no descendants. Third, the property goes to your parents or surviving parents to the exclusion of all others if you have no siblings. Fourth, your property will go to your spouse.
In order to make sure your spouse will acquire ownership of some or all of your estate in Louisiana, you need a will. A will is also necessary if you want a variety of relatives at different levels to share in your property after you die. Lastly, a will is needed if you plan on leaving any of your estate for a charitable purpose. Without a will, the distribution of your estate is beyond your control.
If you are interested in creating a professionally done will here in Louisiana or other matters concerning your estate, give me a call at (504) 247-1980 in the Metairie and New Orleans Area or call (985) 246-3020 in Mandeville, Covington, Slidell, Houma, Thibodaux, and surrounding areas.