1. Provision for your spouse: In Louisiana, if you die without a Will, your half of your community property and all of your separate property is inherited by your children before it is inherited by your spouse.
2. Provision for your children, particularly minors: If your children inherit all or part of your estate, they may have immediate access to all of the funds that are available. If they are minors they will be subject to a guardian until their 18th birthday. By drafting a Will, you can put their interest in a trust that will provide when and under what conditions they will have access to their inheritance. If your children are minors, you can also name who you would want to become their guardian should something happen to you and your spouse.
3. Provision for special needs children or grandchildren: If you have children or grandchildren who may be eligible for governmental programs due to physical or mental disabilities, an inheritance from you may jeopardize that eligibility. In a Will, you can create a "special needs trust" which can allow you to supplement, rather than replace, any governmental programs.
4. Anticipate Louisiana forced heirship: Louisiana Law provides that you must make provisions in your estate for your children if they are 23 years old or younger or if they "because of mental incapacity or infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estate." If you have a child or grandchild who fits into this category, it is vital that provisions be made in a Will for their care and custody.
5. Specific gifts, including gifts to charity: By preparing a Will you can designate particular items to go to particular heirs. You can also treat heirs separately, recognizing that one may have greater needs or one may have received items prior to your death that others did not. You can also make provisions for people who are not in line to inherit from you, such as distant relatives, caregivers, and charities.
6. Estate tax planning: A properly drafted Will may reduce or eliminate the amount of taxes that have to be paid. Many Wills written without consideration of recent federal tax laws should be reexamined with reference to tax problems.
7. Naming an executor of your Will: The executor is the person who represents your estate to the court to see that your assets are passed on by Will or by law. You can designate a person to fill this role and give them expanded authority over what they can do without having to go to court to sanction their actions or possibly having to post a bond.