How to Make a Will in Louisiana

By Anna Assad

Detailing the distribution of your personal items and assets among your loved ones in your will helps avoid confusion after your death. Your will must be specific and easy to understand to avoid misinterpretations of your intent by the Louisiana probate court. Louisiana law contains standards for valid wills in probate, the legal proceedings used to give authority to your named executor. The executor is the person who petitions the court for probate and settles your final affairs.

Step 1

List all your assets. Include money, real estate, bank and retirement accounts and any other asset your own that is included in Louisiana probate; some property is exempt, like life insurance proceeds. Write the approximate value next to each item if you are concerned about leaving your beneficiaries equal shares. Label the list "Assets."

Step 2

Write down any personal items you wish to leave to a specific person. Insert the person's name next to the item. Consider sentimental items or things that have a high value, like rare antiques or jewelry. Label the list "Personal Bequests."

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Step 3

Write down the names of all of your legal heirs under Louisiana law. Include names of heirs you want to omit; Louisiana laws requires you specifically note the disinheritance in your will. Highlight omitted heirs. Name the list "Heirs."

Step 4

List any beneficiaries who are not your heirs. Include charities, religious organizations and friends. Use the proper name for any organizations; if you are not clear, Louisiana laws permit the court to decide your intent. Label the list "Beneficiaries."

Step 5

Read over your "Assets" list carefully. Using your "Heirs" and "Beneficiaries" lists as references, write down the names of the persons or organizations next to the corresponding asset being received.

Step 6

Contact the person you wish to name as executor. Confirm the person is willing to handle the obligation. Your loved ones may use an independent executor in Louisiana if your executor is unwilling or unable to act, but fees are associated with the service. Consider naming a successor executor to act in the place of your original executor if he cannot perform the duties at the time of your death.

Step 7

Get a blank will form from a legal print store. Select a will for Louisiana use. You may draft the will from scratch, but if the document fails to meet state standards, the will cannot be used for probate. Use the will form to assist you if you prefer to draft the will yourself.

Step 8

Type the will entirely or type in the blank sections of the form. Handwritten wills are permitted in Louisiana, but the court decides the meaning of any unclear words. Insert all directions, personal bequests and omissions. Name your primary and successor executors. Compare your "Assets," "Personal Bequests," "Heirs" and "Beneficiaries" lists to your will to avoid errors and accidental omissions.

Step 9

Contact two competent persons to serve as your witnesses, as required under Louisiana law. Do not use your spouse. You may use a person who benefits from your will as a witness, but state laws limit the amount the person can receive from your estate. Schedule a day and time for the witnesses to meet with your in front of a notary; Louisiana requires notarization of wills. Contact your bank about notary services. Bring your will with you.

Step 10

Sign and date your will in front of a notary. You must sign all pages of your will in Louisiana. Have both witnesses sign and date the witness sections in front of the notary. Have the notary notarize and sign the will. Keep the will in a safe place or file with the probate court in your area if storage is available.

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How Can I Do My Own Will?

Less than half of American adults have wills. One reason for this low figure might be the common perception that wills are complicated and expensive to prepare. Although large and complex estates may require estate-planning services and legal advice, many people with smaller holdings use simple testaments. All jurisdictions accept self-drafted testaments that meet probate requirements. Some states -- such as California -- make it easy for people to draft their own wills by providing a valid form will in the statutes and allowing handwritten wills.

How do I Create a Valid Will?

Will requirements are neither tricky nor confusing. If you follow the procedures mandated in your state of residence, you can create a valid will. Lawyers term wills "creatures of statute" because will requirements depend on state law. Absent a valid will, your property will pass according to intestate rules upon your death, generally to children and spouse or, in their absence, to siblings and parents. Your valid not only selects estate heirs but signals your choice for guardian of minor children as well as will executor.

How to Make Your Own Legal Will

It is not that hard to cook up a legal will. Take one testator, over the age of 18 and of sound mind. Add a good dose of testamentary intent, a variety of assets and one or more heirs, according to taste. Finish off with a couple of disinterested witnesses, signatures and dates. Let set at room temperature for as long as possible before serving. This recipe is likely to be please everywhere, but allow for minor adjustments among states.

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