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Why do I need a will if I want all of my belongings to go to my spouse and children?

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The first reason to make a will is to know that your wishes are known and will be followed after your death. This makes life after your death much easier for your family. 

If there is no will, the Louisiana law on intestacy applies. This means that half of your property is inherited by your children with your spouse having a usufruct (right of use) over your share of community property until he or she remarries. In order to leave your spouse all of your property, or to leave him or her your separate property, or to give him or her the right to use the property for life, you must make a will.

A usufruct is where you are allowed use of the property but you cannot sell it without the approval of other heirs. In this instance, you can't sell your house, your car, or anything acquired without a court order or the approval of all of the heirs (your children and spouse in this instance). 

Further, stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share. Grandchildren will only receive a share if their parent (your child) has died before you do. 

Another reason to have a will is to name a guardian for a child who is a minor in the event that both spouses died. At 18, the child would get the amount left without restriction. For more information on this, see our article "Should you Trust a Trust."