People in Louisiana may want to avoid the errors of celebrities such as Aretha Franklin and Prince who died without estate plans. It's important to note that estate planning is not just for people who have wealth and fame. Creating an estate plan ensures that a person's wishes are carried out.
Without an estate plan, the distribution of assets could be delayed and family conflicts could erupt. Despite this, many or most people do not have one. One survey found that only about 40 percent of adults have a will or trust. Almost two-thirds of Gen Xers and over 40 percent of baby boomers do not have a will. Many simply say they have not gotten around to creating one.
An attorney for Aretha Franklin said that he urged her to create such a plan but she never took his advice. In Franklin's case, her estate is reported to be worth about $80 million. An estate plan can be designed to reduce taxes, but with no estate plan, the entire value of the estate above $11.18 million will be taxed. Without a trust in place, those assets may be taxed again when Franklin's four children die.
Working with an attorney to create a will can help make sure the legal language and provisions are correct. Parents with children who have special needs may want to create a special needs trust.
There are several other reasons to create an estate plan. For example, parents can name a legal guardian for minor children in a will. If no guardian is appointed, family members may have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process to obtain guardianship. Proper estate planning can also designate powers of attorney and important health care decisions.