Shreveport Estate Planning & Succession Attorneys
Helping Louisianans Create Wills, Trusts & More for Their Families
Have you considered creating an estate plan? Many people mistakenly believe they don’t need to worry about such things unless they are elderly or wealthy, but the fact is everyone can benefit from an estate plan. With an estate plan in place, you can dictate how your assets will be distributed and determine how to manage succession in advance rather than making your family handle such matters after your passing.
Individuals create estate plans primarily to avoid probate and conservatorship, eliminate federal estate taxes, distribute their assets to select beneficiaries, and choose guardians for any minor children and other dependents. An effective estate plan starts with working with a Shreveport estate planning and succession attorney at Stroud, Carmouche & Buckle or another professional to gain a full understanding of your goals and how they fit into your plan. Together we will then address any possible complications—such as taxes on your estate, family business transitions, and issues with liquidity—while building a plan that will ensure your loved ones and beneficiaries are secure. We can also assist you with updating an existing estate plan.
Contact us now to discuss your options during a confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our estate planning lawyers today.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan consists of legal documents and procedures that show how an individual would like their assets divided after their passing, or after they become otherwise unable to manage it. This means that estate plans can also kick in if you have become incapacitated (e.g., are in a coma) or go missing. The primary purpose of an estate plan is to establish what should be done with your possessions and monetary assets, but it can also dictate things such as who manages your business after you die or who makes end of life care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate.
Estate plans tend to involve the creation of documents such as:
- Wills, which allocate where your assets go after your passing.
- Trusts, which work similar to wills (see below for more details).
- Powers of Attorney, also known as POA, grant an individual (known as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) the ability to act on your (the “principal’s”) behalf.
- Advance Directives, which primarily state your decisions regarding end-of-life care ahead of time.
Many people believe that estate plans are only for the elderly and/or wealthy, but that simply isn’t true. Anyone who possesses assets can benefit from an estate plan. Otherwise, if—and, realistically, when—something happens to you, what is done with your financial assets and possessions is decided by the court and could entrench your family in a contentious and/or complicated legal battle. By having an estate plan set up in advance, you get to choose which individuals and charity organizations have access to your belongings after you’re gone, which also makes things much easier for the loved ones you leave behind.
Wills & Trusts
Two major components of an estate plan are wills and trusts. Wills and trusts are important estate planning documents that can help ensure your assets are protected and distributed in the manner you prefer. It is possible to have both a will and a trust, though which documents are needed vary based on each person’s unique situation.
Though the two are similar in many ways, there are significant differences between wills and trusts that should be addressed:
- A will is a legal document stating a deceased individual’s wishes, which typically include naming guardians of dependents and allocating assets to relatives, close friends, and/or charities. A will only becomes active after someone’s death. If you die without a will, this is considered “intestate” and it will be up to the local court to allocate your belongings.
- A trust, alternatively, is active from the day you create it and therefore allows you to list the distribution of assets before your death. There are two main types of trusts: irrevocable trusts, which are usually created for tax purposes and can’t be altered, and living trusts, which can be changed anytime.
If you’re unsure which is right for you, give us a call to discuss your options during a no-obligation consultation. We’ll help you determine whether your estate plan requires a will, trust, or both.
How a Lawyer Can Help Create the Estate Plan That Is Right for You
There are many benefits to having an estate plan in place, so we highly recommend at least consulting with an attorney in your area if you don’t already have one. By discussing your situation with a lawyer, you may determine an estate plan isn’t right for you yet—or you may realize the benefits of securing one right away. Either way, you’ll come out of any legal consultation with a better idea of where you stand. We will help you make sound decisions based on your present and potential future as well as your preferences while ensuring that your estate plan clearly and effectively grants those you love the right to succession.