Succession And Estate Planning FAQ
At Nicaud & Sunseri Law Firm, LLC, we have decades of experience in Louisiana succession and estate planning. With offices in Metairie and St. Tammany Parish, we advise and represent clients throughout southeast Louisiana. Whatever your needs may be, we can provide customized solutions to help you achieve your specific goals.
Following are some common questions people have about estate planning and the succession process.
What is succession?
Succession is a court-supervised process for dealing with a deceased person’s financial affairs. Succession in Louisiana is like probate in other states. The process involves creating an inventory of the decedent’s assets, valuing the assets, paying the decedent’s taxes and other debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to heirs and beneficiaries.
In general, succession is required anytime a person dies with assets in his or her name. The succession process can be time-consuming and costly for the decedent’s family, and often it is necessary to appoint an executor to oversee the process. However, there are estate planning strategies for avoiding succession proceedings.
Why should I have a will?
A will is a legal document you can create to ensure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. To be certain that your will is valid and that your assets will be distributed as you want them to be, it is important to have your will drafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer.
In legal parlance, dying without a will is called dying intestate. In Louisiana, when a person dies without a will, the decedent’s assets are distributed in accordance with Louisiana law — and not necessarily in accordance with the decedent’s wishes. In many cases, dying without a will results in family disputes and unnecessary costs. Your estate plan should include a will so that you can exercise control over the distribution of your property and minimize your family’s burdens after you are gone.
Is creating a will enough to complete my estate plan?
While a will is a foundational document for any estate plan, a will alone may not be sufficient if you want to eliminate unnecessary costs to the estate, ensure a comfortable future for your loved ones and prevent family strife. In addition to a will, a comprehensive estate plan will include multiple documents to achieve specific goals. Following are some estate planning tools to consider:
- Trusts, including special needs and supplemental needs trusts
- Durable powers of attorney
- Advance medical directives, also called living wills
- A business succession plan
- Determination of guardianship for minor children
- Life insurance and retirement plans
To ensure that your estate plan meets your needs and those of your family, discuss your goals and concerns with one of our estate planning lawyers.
How can I avoid succession proceedings/probate?
Trusts are excellent tools for helping families avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process. Because a trust can be created to hold assets outside of the estate, there is no need for the assets to pass through probate. Instead, the assets can be distributed according to the terms of the trust.
Insurance policies and retirement plans can also be useful in distributing assets outside of the succession process. It is worth noting that the beneficiary designations on insurance policies and retirement plans will override the contents of your will if the documents contradict each other, so it is important to ensure that your will and other estate planning documents are updated and properly coordinated.
What is durable power of attorney?
Durable powers of attorney are documents that name a trusted person to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated. You can create a financial power of attorney and a medical power of attorney, and if you so choose, multiple trusted people can be named in the documents.
What is a living will?
A living will is also called an advance medical directive. When you create a living will, you specify what types of medical care you prefer to have — or to have withheld or withdrawn — in the event that you become incapacitated due to a terminal condition. Often living wills are created in conjunction with medical powers of attorney. These documents can be extremely helpful to family members by relieving them of the burden of having to make difficult medical decisions without knowledge of your wishes.
To schedule a consultation regarding your estate planning goals, call Nicaud & Sunseri Law Firm, LLC, at 504-662-9596 or 985-218-0494, or send us an email. We advise and represent Northshore and Southshore clients.