What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning in its most simple form is the planning done before you die. It involves planning with your Estate planning attorney throughout your lifetime to decide what happens to your estate after your passing. Your estate refers to anything that makes up the total net worth of an individual. It can consist of both assets and liabilities and legal rights. This includes but is not limited to: wills, living trusts, power of attorney, real estate, personal property, financial assets, business interests, intellectual property, life insurance policies, debts and liabilities. The goal of estate planning is to ensure your estate is properly distributed according to your wishes, to minimize taxes and expenses for your loved ones after your passing and provide for the overall well-being of those you leave behind.
What is Succession in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, succession is the process of putting heirs of the estate into possession. It’s the legal process that takes place after someone dies and involves validating the will (if one exists), identifying, and inventorying their assets, assisting in the paying of debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to declared beneficiaries of the estate. There are two categories of succession in Louisiana: Intestate and Testamentary succession. An additional post coming soon to break down the difference between the two.
The connection between Estate Planning and Succession
The specifics of an individual’s estate varies based on their personal situation financially and their estate planning choices. Keeping an inventory of assets and liabilities is essential for effective estate planning services. Doing so will make the actual administration of the Estate (succession) a much smoother process upon one’s death. Some of the ways these two areas of law are connected include but are not limited to:
- Wills and Trusts. Having a will and/or trust set up outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your passing. These legal instruments allow the court system to fully understand your intentions and have them implemented as you laid it out. Having a valid will directly impacts how smoothly the succession process will go.
- Executor. In your estate plan, you can appoint an executor who is responsible for handling your affairs after your passing. This person assists in the probate process in gathering and managing assets, settling the debts and distributing the assets according to the will and state laws.
- Overall Process. The estate planning process aims to streamline the succession process and minimize its impact. Effective and strategic estate planning services simplify and expedite the succession process and can even reduce unnecessary costs while providing clarity and protection for the loved ones you are leaving behind.
It is important to note that the law varies by state and is forever changing. Having an attorney who is experienced in succession and estate planning is essential. Certain assets may not be considered a part of the probate estate, such as assets held in a living trust, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or designated beneficiaries on retirement and life insurance policy accounts which allow bypassing of the succession process. Having someone who understands the law and how to make things easier for you and your loved ones along the way will provide a great deal of peace of mind. Call Carmen with questions you may have about these services!
What do Estate Planning Services Include?
Estate planning services will include a wide range of both legal and financial strategies that will aim at properly structuring, managing, and distributing your assets and affairs throughout your lifetime and after your passing. Some of these services include but are not limited to:
-Creating a valid Will
-Establishing a valid trust
-Establishing power of attorney to grant designated individuals the authority to act on your behalf.
-Advance healthcare directives
-Estate Tax Planning
-Business succession planning (if applicable)
-Asset protection services
What will a Succession Attorney do?
A succession attorney specializes in succession law and provides legal services related to the distribution of that person’s estate. Some services you can expect a succession attorney to assist with include but are not limited to:
-Drafting of legal documents
-Estate and gift tax planning
-resolving disputes throughout the succession process
Both estate planning services and succession work together to ensure your estate and affairs are properly inventoried and will be distributed the way you wish. These services are tailored to your individual circumstances and goals. This plan should be comprehensive, legally sound, and aligned with your specific needs and objectives. Working with an estate planning attorney is essential to minimizing or eliminating gaps that could complicate the succession process after your passing. Call Carmen with Liriano Law today to discuss your estate planning needs and goals.