If you move to another state, you don’t necessarily need to upend or change the entirety of your estate plan. However, the laws governing wills, trusts, and other estate planning essentials often change across borders. While you might be reluctant to revisit, rewrite, or alter an existing will, some revision might be necessary to safeguard your estate from unexpected complications.
Reasons to Revise Your Will After Moving to Louisiana
Whether you’ve moved to pursue a new job or simply want to live in the Bayou State, reviewing your estate plan should be a first priority. While Louisiana law explicitly allows out-of-state wills to be recognized as valid if they meet the requirements of the state in which they were executed, there can be problems.
Potential Complications of an Out-of-State Will
- The will was signed or executed in a state that does not recognize community property
- The will directs the disbursement of out-of-state or overseas assets
- The will contains instructions or conditions that have no legal equivalent in Louisiana
Reasons to Revise Your Will
- You are planning to permanently live in Louisiana
- You are transferring most of your assets to Louisiana
- You wish to spare your loved ones the hassle of having to probate a will in multiple states
What Makes a Will Valid Under Louisiana Law
All Louisiana wills must meet the following requirements to be considered valid:
- The testator must be age 18 or older.
- The testator must be of sound mind.
- The testator must understand that they are writing or signing a will.
- The testator must either write the will in their own handwriting or sign the will in the presence of a notary and at least two disinterested witnesses.
Louisiana Recognizes Two Types of Wills
- Olographic testaments. An olographic testament is a will that was handwritten by the testator. While olographic testaments don’t need to be notarized or bear witness signatures, they must still be signed and dated by the testator.
- Notarial testaments. A notarial testament should be signed and dated in the presence of a notary and at least two disinterested witnesses. Both the notary and witnesses should sign a declaration affirming the testator recognized that the document is intended to serve as their last will and testament.
Potential Problems With Out-of-State Wills
Although Louisiana’s legal system has the capacity to recognize out-of-state wills, an estate plan intended for use in another jurisdiction could make it more difficult to:
- Identify an executor. Every will should nominate a personal estate representative or executor who is responsible for initiating and overseeing probate. An executor is typically an attorney or a close friend or relative. If the executor resides in another state, they may not find it practical—or possible—to fulfill their duties in Louisiana. Additionally, even if the personal representative is willing to travel to the Bayou State, they may have to seek reimbursement from the estate.
- Initiate probate. If an estate plan does not explicitly accommodate or conform to Louisiana law, the executor and the beneficiaries may have to initiate probate in different states simultaneously.
- Inventory the estate. Every state has its own requirements for probate. In general, the executor must marshal and inventory the estate’s assets. This process is typically time-consuming, even if the assets are all located inside a single state. If the estate’s holdings fall in different jurisdictions, it could take weeks—if not months—for the executor to fulfill this obligation.
- Distribute inheritances. The distribution of gifts and inheritances could be delayed or compromised by conflicting state laws and expectations, especially if the out-of-state will does not account for Louisiana-specific statutes. For example, Louisiana is a “community property” state that considers certain assets acquired during the course of a marriage to be jointly owned by both spouses. Since community property law can supersede other estate planning provisions, the state could apportion assets to a surviving spouse that the deceased person had intended to be gifted to children or other relatives.
Contact Us Today
Probating and fulfilling the conditions of an out-of-state will can be challenging for everyone involved. In most cases, writing a new will is the easiest, simplest, and least expensive way to spare beneficiaries the uncertainty of multi-state probate.
If you have recently moved to Louisiana, the Scott Law Group could help you ensure that your estate plan remains safe from complications. Please call us at 504-264-1057 to schedule your consultation.