Writing a will can be stressful if specific rules are not followed because it requires several aspects to be taken into account, such as the ability to have the mental fortitude to write down what you want to happen to your property and to whom you want to leave each asset after your death.
As difficult as it may be, making a will is one of the most critical moments in someone’s life since it is a once-in-a-lifetime document that will depend on the future of the descendants of the person leaving the testament.
Which are the types of wills?
There are several types of wills, and we can distinguish them according to the person who writes and the place where the document is written.
- Open: A notary must keep this document until the testator dies. The notary must draft the final will after the testator orally expresses his or her last will.
- Holograph: This is one of the most common since the testator writes the document in his handwriting, but it must comply with a series of requirements to be validated after his death.
– The testator must have reached the age of majority.
– It must be presented before a judge of the first instance of the testator’s domicile within 5 years after his death.
– After presenting the document before a judge, the judge will determine if the record is authentic and original. For this, at least two witnesses must be summoned.
- Closed: This type of will is written by the testator, who does not reveal his will. The testator must deliver the document in a sealed envelope to the notary, who will have to authorize it if he/she deems it convenient.
- Foreign: This Will is written abroad. It must comply with the laws of the country in which the document is written.
- Maritime: The document is written while traveling at sea.
- Military: It is often used for people who go to war (military) and must make this type of will in the worst-case scenario.
Four ways to write a will in Louisiana
There are several options and means by which a will can be written.
Paid service in person (solicitor or barrister)
The most common way to write a will is to hire a lawyer to write the document. In addition, the professional will validate the statement, which brings greater peace of mind to the testator and his or her family members.
If the testator has several properties, a large estate, or trusts, the best option is to hire a legal specialist to ensure that the document will be well-detailed.
Online payment service
On the internet, there are more and more possibilities to find this type of probate service, usually advertised as “estate planning” or “trust planning.” This option is perfect for those who want to create trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents.
It is essential to read reviews from clients who have contracted this service, as many scammers are floating around the web. So, it will be a great idea to talk to the company or, preferably, the company’s attorneys on the phone to corroborate that the document will be valid and approved by law.
The testator can write his own will if his estate is not of great value. However, it is necessary to have the legal knowledge to know how to validate the document written by the testator. You will need to check the legal requirements in Louisiana before writing the will.
Template or a do-it-yourself kit
If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer’s fee, there is a cheaper option: download some DIY will kits online. The kits include sample wills, guides, templates, and everything needed to probate a will legally. These can also be found in physical stores.
While the kits are generally not free, they are less expensive than a paid online or in-person service. Of course, these sets are usually formulated for generic wills, not individual ones.
How to create a will in Louisiana?
1. Find a lawyer or software to write the will yourself
Those individuals and families who do not have a large estate can use online software to write a will, but make sure it is a website with good reviews from other users who have used these digital tools.
If the family has several properties or assets at stake, it is best to hire an estate planning attorney. That is the safest way to write a comprehensive will. While the fee for a legal specialist is relatively high, there is also the possibility of writing the testament from a webpage.
If you opt for the latter option, you should keep in mind that, in case any document is lost or miswritten, it may cause problems in the future for its veracity. In these cases, it is advisable to pay a lawyer to avoid possible future issues.
2. Selecting heirs
It is essential to take for granted who will be the heirs of the deceased’s estate, so it is first necessary to select and name each beneficiary. Then, the names of these persons who will receive the inheritance need to be updated from time to time in case there are changes in the will.
3. Appointing the Executor
The testator has to appoint an executor to fulfill his or her last wishes expressed in the will. Generally, this person is part of the deceased’s family, although it is up to the testator to choose whomever he wishes to be his/her executor.
He/she may select a person outside the family as executor, such as a friend or person who will be in charge and responsible for carrying out the deceased’s last wishes and controlling that his inheritance is distributed as established in the will.
4. Appointing a guardian for your children
If the testator has minor or disabled children in his care, who are his dependents, he should choose a guardian and leave it for granted in his will. The parent of the dependents can appoint more than one guardian to take care of the children since in case the first one is unable to, he/she has a second option to which his/her heirs can turn.
5. Detailing to whom each asset belongs
After listing the goods, properties, and assets, the testator will leave them in his inheritance. They must explain to whom each property belongs, from jewelry to vehicles or houses. There must be no margin of error when writing this section in the will since it is essential for each person to receive what belongs to him/her and what he/she has inherited.
On the other hand, it is necessary to clarify the percentage that corresponds to each child, if it is divided equally among the heirs or if someone will benefit more than another.
6. Attach a letter
Testators can attach a letter to their will to explain different points that may have been left unclear in the will, or simply a farewell letter with whatever they wish to write in it, such as details of the distribution of assets or their last wishes.
7. Signing the will
After having the will written and finished, it must be signed by the testator in front of his witnesses, who cannot be the ones who will inherit his estate but will be third parties who are not involved in the will. These witnesses would be in charge of testifying in court if there is any mishap with what is expressed in the document, and they must be over 18 years of age.
8. Keeping the will in a safe place
Once the will has been signed, it is essential to tell someone you trust where the document will be kept, as it may be with other papers of great importance to the testator, and the heirs may need it in the future. Another point to remember is that it always helps to have a copy of the will.
9. Update your will
It is advisable to update a will every five years or when there is an important event in the testator’s life, such as the birth of a new heir, divorce, changes in the division of assets or guardianship, etc. If there are no modifications, it is recommended to check the document to ensure that the information is updated.
If necessary, estate planning documents such as a living trust, power of attorney, or living will be attached.
How to Write a Will in Louisiana?
The steps outlined above should be followed to write a last will in Louisiana, as this procedure is the same in all states. In short, the testator must choose his or her heirs and express the distribution of assets, trust arrangements, life insurance, and real, personal, or digital property.
Moreover, the testator can leave a note clarifying what he/she wants to happen after his/her death with the inheritance, body, and other aspects. In Louisiana, the signature of two (2) witnesses present at the testator’s signature is required, and the document must be notarized by a Secretary of State’s Office worker.
- “DIY Will: How to Write a Will Without a Lawyer | Trust & Will.” Trust & Will, https://trustandwill.com/learn/diy-will.
- “Write Your Legal Will Online, Free & Simple | FreeWill.” FreeWill, https://www.freewill.com/learn/how-to-write-a-simple-will.
For years I have studied American finance regulations. All the information in this blog is sourced from official or contrasted sources from reliable sites.
Salesforce Certified SALES & SERVICE Cloud Consultant in February 2020, Salesforce Certified Administrator (ADM-201), and Master degree in “Business Analytics & Big Data Strategy” with more than 13 years of experience in IT consulting.