Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Louisiana wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will), to create valid Louisiana wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Louisiana last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for a Louisiana Last Will and Testament:
Age: Louisiana laws do not require a minimum age to create a will.
Capacity: The testator must know how to sign his name and to read, and is physically able to do both.
Signature: In the presence of a notary and two competent witnesses, the testator shall declare or signify to the witnesses that the document is his or her Louisiana Last Will and Testament and must sign his or her name at the end of the document and on each other separate page.
Witnesses: In the presence of the testator and each other, the notary and the 2 witnesses must sign the following declaration, or one substantially similar: "In our presence the testator has declared or signified that this instrument is his testament and has signed it at the end and on each other separate page, and in the presence of the testator and each other we have hereunto subscribed our names this ____day of _________, ____."
Writing: A Louisiana Last Will and Testament must be in writing and dated to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A Louisiana Last Will and Testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic Wills: An holographic will is one entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the testator. Louisiana laws have specific requirements regarding handwritten wills, and any deviation from the formalities would deem this type of will invalid.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Louisiana laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Louisiana wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Louisiana wills form will may also be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.
A will may establish usufruct (the right to use property of another) of property for a designated beneficiary.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
Community property may not be willed away.
Louisiana laws regarding forced heirships give a personal right to certain classes of heirs to receive a percentage of the estate.
Providing for Pets
Louisiana law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet using Legalzoom's Louisiana wills form.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
Louisiana will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A will can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Louisiana laws.
Revoking a Will
A Louisiana will and testament can be revoked if and when the testator does any of the following:
(1) Physically destroys the will, or has it destroyed at his direction.
(2) States a revocation in a subsequent will.
(3) Identifies and clearly revokes the will by a writing that is entirely written and signed by the testator.
A Louisiana will and testament can be partially revoked when the testator does any of the following:
(1) States a revocation in a subsequent will or codicil.
(2) Makes a conflicting change in a subsequent will or codicil.
(3) Clearly revokes the provision in a will by a signed writing on the will itself.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Louisiana last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Louisiana last will.
Louisiana's inheritance tax is class based and dependent on the person who receives property from the will. Louisiana's estate tax mimics the Federal credit for state death taxes. In general, if no Federal estate taxes are owed, then no state estate taxes are due. Estate taxes must be filed within 9 months of the testator's death.
It is extremely important to make a Louisiana will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Louisiana laws.
For example, if you do not make a Louisiana will, your surviving children will receive the entire estate. If the children are deceased, then the grandchildren will receive the entire estate. When there are no children at the time of death, the spouse will receive all community property and any surviving brothers and sisters receive the separate property.
A valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.