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How Wills & Successions in Shreveport LA Are Handled

Wills are an important part of estate planning as they allow individuals to determine how their assets should be handled upon their death. Successions in Shreveport Louisiana refers to the process that other states call “probate” which involves settling the decedent’s estate, paying off debts and distributing property to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent.

Successions are handled in one way if there is no will or the court finds the will is invalid. In cases of intestacy – dying without a valid will – the court looks at the status of the property and the family members who have survived the decedent. The status of property is either separate or community. Generally, separate property is that which was acquired before a marriage or that was a product of an inheritance or individual gift. All other property acquired during the marriage is usually community property. A surviving spouse owns one half of the community property and is usually granted the right to use the remaining half of community property during his or her lifetime or until the spouse remarries. However, separate property is usually given to the children or other heirs when there is no will without the spouse being able to use it.

However, successions operate differently if the court finds that there is a valid will. Through a will, a person can make provisions of his or her preference. Rather than property automatically going to the statutory heirs, the testator may decide to give his or her property to a spouse or any third party regardless of whether it is community or separate property. He or she can also provide a lifetime interest in a beneficiary that can be used even if a forced heir exists. Talking to an experienced lawyer who focuses on wills & successions can help establish an estate plan that best effectuates the testator’s final wishes.