Writing Your Own Last Will & Testament in Louisiana
1. The Notarial Testament – Simply put, a Will that is notarized and typically prepared by an attorney.
2. The Olographic Testament
If you’re composing your Last Will & Testament on your own, it will fall under the category of an Olographic Testament and will need to meet specific requirements
For You By You. The most critical requirement of an Olographic Will is that it is created by one Testator (the person whose estate the Testament will govern) and expressed the intentions of that Testator. Note: Louisiana law does not allow for joint Testaments, therefore, even husband and wife must have separate Testaments/Wills.
The entire document must be handwritten by the Testator. No fill-in-the-blank form documents will be considered valid. This requirement is supportive of the first.
In order for an Olographic Will to be valid, it must be dated. This requirement allows for previous documentation to be considered invalid. The date may appear anywhere on the document.
The document must be signed on the last page in order to be considered valid. This last requirement too lends itself to support of the first.
Of course, the document must also show the Testator’s intention to utilize the document as his or her Last Will & Testament. Not just any handwritten, dated, and signed note will suffice.
This is where things become complicated. If you’ve never written or read a Will before there can be a great deal of confusion as to how to compose one. A Will is a legal document and not a note to your family. It must be specific and direct so that it leaves little room for open interpretation.
7. Things to consider:
Is your Olographic Testament Sufficient to Accomplish your Goals?
What are your goals? Many people have the same four:
Distribution of Property
Determine Children’s Guardianship
Reduce Estate Taxes
Simplify the Probate Process and minimize family complications
Is it going to complicate your estate?
Many people choose to create an Estate Plan in order to a make the distribution of his or her estate as simple as possible. Unclear language or broad statements such as: “I leave my property to my daughter and my house to my son” can and most likely will become an issue that requires court intervention.
Will it end up costing your family more in the long run?
One of the top goals of Estate Planning is saving your family money in estate taxes. Even the simplest Last Will & Testament, when composed improperly, can cost your family thousands. Paying an attorney for a notarial Will/Testament is an investment and costs significantly less than court intervention after your death.
For more information on Wills in Louisiana visit our Wills & Testaments page or call Baton Rouge or Metairie office and schedule your FREE estate planning consultation, today!