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Avoiding mistakes with estate plans

One of the mistakes Louisiana residents can make with estate planning is not developing an estate plan at all. There are many people who do not have a will, and if they die without a will in place, the state will be required to determine who should step into the role of executor and who will receive their assets. Married couples should be sure to develop an estate plan as intestacy laws do not stipulate that all assets will be transferred to the ownership of a surviving spouse.

Another estate planning misstep is not being prepared for the unexpected. It is important that an estate plan includes the legal documents that ensure an incapacitated individual's wishes and preferences will be honored regarding certain decisions. A financial power of attorney, which can be used to designate a trusted person to act on the behalf of an incapacitated person in the management of their financial affairs, should be completed. It is also important to have a health care power of attorney in place so that a trusted person can make medical decisions. For people who would prefer to not have extraordinary measures taken if they are on life support, they should also make sure to have a living will on file.

Estate plans should be reviewed regularly and beneficiary designations updated when necessary. No matter what may be stipulated in a will or revocable trust, it is the names listed as beneficiaries on the retirement plans and insurance policies that will take precedence.

An attorney who practices estate planning law may evaluate the assets and goals of clients and advise them about which legal devices should be completed to develop an estate plan that will serve client wishes. Assistance may be provided for drafting certain types of wills, powers of attorney and trusts.

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