What Is A Will?

What is a Will? It’s a very common question. A Last Will and Testament is an essential part of any estate plan, yet so many people never get around to creating a Will for themselves and their family, which is where the trouble starts.

What is a Will? It’s a very common question. A Last Will and Testament is an essential part of any estate plan, yet so many people never get around to creating a Will for themselves and their family, which is where the trouble starts. Avoidance is natural. Most of us don’t really want to reckon with our own mortality. But procrastination is the silent killer of estate plans. 

The mission of GeauxPlans is to make your estate planning journey easy and affordable, so you can rest easy knowing you and your loved ones will be safe and secure should something happen to you. So we’ve created this guide to help you understand what a Will is and why a Will is so important.

Ready?  Let’s Geaux!

What is a Will? 

What is a Will? It’s pretty simple. A Last Will and Testament is just a gift that takes effect when we die. That’s it. In order to be legally valid, a Will must be written in a certain form required by state law. Also, the Will must be signed a certain way. If the formalities of signing a Will are not observed, the Will is legally invalid.

Kinds of Wills

There are many kinds of wills.

Simple Will

A Simple Will is sometimes called a “sweetheart will” and just a Will that leaves assets to loved ones outright free of trust. A Simple Will might leave all assets to a spouse with the caveat that if there is no surviving spouse that assets are to be distributed to children or any other person.

Testamentary Trust Will

A Will can establish a Testamentary Trust for a beneficiary. Instead of leaving assets outright to a beneficiary, a Testamentary Trust Will can establish a protective trust for the beneficiary. For example, if a beneficiary is a younger person, then a Testamentary Trust established in a Will can hold assets for the benefit of the younger person until they are old enough to manage assets alone. Testamentary Trusts can protect beneficiaries from themselves, as well as external threats like creditors.

Notarial Will

A Notarial Will requires a certain form and must be executed in the presence of a notary and two witnesses. A Notarial Will must be signed on the bottom of each page and at the end, and the person executing a Notarial Will must declare in the presence of the Notary and two witnesses that the instrument is his or her Last Will and Testament.

Olographic Will / Holographic Will

An Olographic Will (sometimes referred to as a Holographic Will) is a handwritten will that must be entirely in the handwriting of the Testator, dated and signed at the end. Handwritten wills sometimes go missing, and are prone to dispute, so these generally aren’t recommended except in the case of an emergency (e.g., someone is on a hospital stretcher).

Online Will

An Online Will is just a Will that you create online. Figuring out what to include in a Will can be confusing and you may be unsure of where to start. That’s where GeauxPlans shines. Just answer a few questions and we’ll take care of the rest. Ready to start? Let’s Geaux!

Not sure where to start?

Tell us about yourself and we'll match you with the right plan!
#1 Choose Your State

If you spend time in more than one state, use the state where you are registered to vote, or maintain a driver's license, or intend to return if you are temporarily residing in another state.

#2 Are you married?
#3 Do you want to plan for what happens when you die?

You get to decide who's in control after you die, who gets your assets, and when, as well as who cares for children, etc.

#4 Do you own any real estate in the state of Louisiana?
#5 OK, so probate will be required in Louisiana. It's a bit more work, but do you want to avoid the probate process by transferring your assets to a Living Trust?

GeauxPlans can walk you through the process - step by step.

#5 Do you own probate assets worth more than $125,000?

Probate assets include property that passes by beneficiary designation or that isn't already in a trust. Put another way, probate assets do not include life insurance or annuity proceeds (unless your estate is the beneficiary), retirement assets, usufruct or life estate property, and other assets with named beneficiaries, such pay on death accounts.

#6 Do you have any minor children?

Include both biological and legally adopted children.

What Is A Will?
What Is A Will?
What Is A Will?
#4 If you lose capacity, do you want someone you trust to make financial or healthcare decisions for you?

Incapacity can result from any of the following:

  • Accidents
  • Injuries
  • Medical conditions
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Anything that can cause you from acting on your own behalf, whether temporarily or permanently

If something happens to you, someone should be able to make medical and financial decisions for you, like taking care of bills and other financial obligations, consenting to medical procedures, making care arrangements, and accessing proctected health information.

What Is A Will?
#5 Do you need authority to make financial or medical decisions for another person?

For example, a college student who is no longer a minor, or an elderly person (perhaps a parent) may need assistance with financial or medical decisions.

#6 Do you seek privacy or improved control of your assets during life?

For example, do you wish to:

  • Minimize or avoid any public record or information about personal assets?
  • Shield any public information from creditors or predators?
  • Keep assets segregated as separate property in the event of a second marriage?
#7 It sounds like you need some advice.

GeauxPlans is owned and administered by an estate planning law firm. If you have questions or would like a complimentary consultation, please submit your inquiry.

Contents of a Will

What is a Will? A Will is one of the most important legal documents that you can have in your estate plan. The purpose of a will is to officially describe your preferences, values and needs regarding how your estate will be managed, secured, and distributed to your loved ones after your death. Having a well-drafted Will can avoid confusion about your preferences, minimize disputes, and reduce any issues or complications that the court or your family members may experience in the process of validating your Will (also known as the probate process).  

What a Will Does

The question (what is a Will?) begs the question of what a Will can do for you and your family. A Will ensures that your assets are distributed to your heirs any other organizations that you may wish to include in your estate plan. A Will ensures a surviving spouse will remain in control of assets for the rest of their days and enjoy peaceful possession.

A Will can create a testamentary trust for younger beneficiaries or any other person that should not own assets directly, as well as appoint trustees to hold, administer and distribute assets held in a testamentary trust. A Will can nominate guardians or tutors for minor children to act as surrogate parents. A Will can appoint an Administrator or Executor to control the administration of your estate, as well set or even waive compensation of the Administrator or Executor. 

Consequences If You Don’t Have a Will

Without a Will, you are under the Government’s Estate Plan. The Government decides who is in control of your assets, who gets to benefit, and when. Your estate may not be handled in a manner that aligns with your specific needs, values or wishes. Your loved ones are not guaranteed to receive the assets that you bestow to them because the court may have their own plans for how to distribute them.

If you don’t want the Government’s Estate Plan, we’ve got you covered. Give Geauxplans a geaux!

Last Will vs. Living Will

Many people confuse a Last Will and Testament with a Living Will (also referred to as an Advance Healthcare Directive). What is a Will? A Will contains information about the distribution of your estate, your named executor, as well as any beneficiaries and guardians or tutors that you want to designate. There are important distinctions between the two despite their name. A Living Will focuses on your medical needs while you are alive, specifically end-of-life decisions. Both are significant legal documents that you may want to include in your estate plan.

If you need additional help and guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us about developing the estate plan that will best serve you.

Do you have any questions?

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Call us: +1 (855) 213-6300