Estate Planning, Like Crawfish, Is An Essential For Louisiana Families with Children
New babies and new marriages rank at the top of the list of the most celebrated events in a person's life. During this time, new parents or new couples are overflowing with hopes and dreams of the future. The last thing on their mind is "estate planning", i.e. planning for their death. Most couples during this time believe having a will prepared is something that they can deal with later after they have accumulated more assets. But unfortunately, time waits for no one, and the unexpected can happen at any time.
The intent of this article is certainly not to rain on anyone's parade. However, after these two major life events, the failure to have a plan in case the unexpected happens may result in an extremely complicated, expensive and emotional situation for your family and your children. If the marriage is not your first marriage and you or your spouse have children separately, the situation can become a nightmare for those left behind. In addition to the question of who will care for your children if you or your spouse dies unexpectedly, the issue of distribution of assets, such as the house that you and your spouse have turned into home, may also become an issue between the surviving spouse, the children, and/or ex-spouses and the deceased family members. Lastly, a divorced spouse, not remarried but could result in your ex-spouse having control over all your assets should you die, leaving behind minor children. A proper estate plan can cover these items, and much more.
Louisiana Law Pertaining to Community Property and Inheritance without a Will
Possible Situations That Could Occur If No Estate Plan Is In Place
Situation 1. Simultaneous Deaths of Both Parent with Minor Children
Situation 2. Death of Your Spouse and the Family Home
1. Spouse Dies Without a Will Leaving Behind Minor Children of the Marriage.
In a situation where the unexpected occurs and your spouse dies, leaving behind minor children then issues may arise. First, is the home, Community Property or Separate Property of the Deceased? As discussed above, if it is Separate Property, the heirs of one hundred percent of the property would be the minor children. If it is Community Property, the surviving spouse will be placed in ownership of half and the children will be placed in ownership of the other half, subject to the surviving spouse's usufruct (or management of the property) until he or she dies or gets remarried. Suppose your spouse dies unexpectedly and you decide to remarry while the children are minors. Now, suppose they do not accept the your new spouse or any other situation where animosity develops between the children and the surviving parent, when the minor's turn 18, the surviving spouse can actually be displaced from his or her home. Not only that, but if you do not have an estate plan in place and depending upon the size of your estate, the children can have a lot of money at their disposal when they turn 18. If neither of these are your intent, estate planning can prevent and manage their inheritance through a will and trust.
2. Single Divorced Parent Dies Without a Will Leaving Behind Minor Children from Prior Marriage.
In this situation, we will presuppose there is no community property. If you are divorced with minor children and something were to happen to you, then your minor children will be the heirs of one hundred percent of your estate. The surviving parent more than likely will become the tutor of your children, overseeing not only their care, but their finances, including your estate until the children are adults. Not many people would want their ex-spouse to have control over their estate. Proper estate planning could prevent this situation.
3. Blended Family Formed With Step-Children.
This situation is perhaps the most complex. Again, the first thing to consider would be "is the property separate or community"? For example, consider the situation where you remarry and move into your spouse's home and your spouse dies without a will leaving behind minor children from a prior marriage. As with single parent situation, his children will not only own will inherit 100% of his estate, the ex-spouse may be in control of it. Moreover, if the spouse died leaving behind adult children from a prior marriage, they would immediately be the heirs of all of his separate property, including the house you live. Also consider the situation where you have a successful blended family and your spouse loves your children and has raised them like his own. If your spouse should die without a will, they will not be privy to his estate. If your spouse had no children and the family home was separate property, then his siblings and parents would inherit his estate.
Here's Why Estate Planning is a Is A Good Idea
If you have minor children regardless of your marital status or you have remarried forming a blended family, putting together a will, a trust and other important legal documents may not be something you want to put off. We are not guaranteed more time, and not planning now could have serious consequences for your spouse and children later if you pass away or become incapacitated unexpectedly. Estate planning documents could:
- provide for care of minor children or child or spouse with special needs
- allow your spouse to stay in the family home for life and/or have use of community and separate assets for life
- allocate particular assets to certain individuals or charities
- decide who will manage property or assets they inherit
- protect your spouse, your children and step-children by making things very clear
- protect a family business
- disinherit someone who would by law could inherit from you
- appoint a person you trust to oversee your wishes after you die.