Estate Planning FAQ

Questions & Answers about Estate Planning

At Brown Weimer LLC, our New Orleans estate planning attorneys have over 30 years of combined experience working with clients to achieve their wealth management goals through estate planning. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about estate planning. We encourage you to continue reading to learn more about what the estate planning process involves and why it's so important for everyone's overall financial plan. To learn more about the components of a good estate plan, please don't hesitate to contact an attorney from our firm directly.

What is a will?
A will is a document that allows someone to make specific distributions of his or her own property after their death.

What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, then Louisiana's intestate succession laws will determine who will inherit your estate. If you left children, then they will inherit equal portions of your estate. If you don't have any children, then who will inherit your property will depend on whether your property is separate or community property.

What is community property?
Community property refers to property acquired during the course of a marriage through the effort, skill or industry of a husband or wife. Community property includes the earnings of the husband or wife as well as the house or household goods that they buy, and property given to them jointly.

What happens to community property if I die without leaving a will?
If one spouse dies, the surviving spouse has full ownership over his or her half of the community property. If there were children, then the surviving children inherit the decedent's half of the community property. However, the surviving spouse can use and enjoy the benefits of the property until their death or remarriage under what's called usufruct. If the decedent died without any descendents, then the surviving spouse receives the entire community property.

What makes up an estate?
An estate consists of everything that you own, this includes: automobiles, real estate, land, furniture, jewelry, artwork, collectibles, and tools of the trade, household goods, and cash in checking and savings accounts, life insurance policies, retirement plans and investments.

What are the components of an estate plan?
A comprehensive estate plan will often involve creating a will, a revocable living trust, health care directives, durable power of attorney for finances, buying insurance, making gifts, naming a guardian for minor children etc.

Should I update my estate plan periodically?
It's important to keep your estate plan current and up to date, especially whenever there is a major change in the family. For example, you should consider updating your estate plan whenever there is a birth, death, divorce or remarriage in the family. We recommend that our clients review their estate plans every two to three years.

Does all property go through succession (probate)?
Not all property goes through succession in Louisiana. Typically, property that is paid directly to a payee or a beneficiary is not subject to Louisiana succession laws. For example, retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401(k)'s don't normally go through succession and are not subject to inheritance tax.

What is estate tax?
Estate tax is a tax on your right to transfer property upon your death. Most relatively simple estates are not required to file an estate tax return. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts that exceed $5,250,000 as of 2013.

What can be excluded from gift tax?
While most gifts are considered taxable gifts, there are exceptions to the rule. The following gifts are not subject to gift taxes: gifts that do not meet the annual exclusion amount, tuition, medical expenses, gifts to your spouse, gifts to political organizations for its use, and gifts made to qualifying charities.

Contact a New Orleans Estate Planning Attorney

If you have additional questions regarding estate planning, or if you're ready to get started implementing a wealth management and asset protection plan, we urge you to contact a New Orleans estate planning lawyer from Brown Weimer LLC. With over 30 years of collective experience, we have the knowledge and experience you need to set a powerful plan into action. We offer a free consultation to all of our prospective clients so take advantage of this offer by calling (504) 662-1798 today.

Brown Weimer LLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law - New Orleans Probate Attorney
Located at 400 Poydras Street, Suite #1125
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 561-8700

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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