Most people want to direct what happens to their property after they die, and they create a will while they are living. If a person dies without a properly executed will, the person dies intestate, and the State of Louisiana decides who gets that person’s property after death. To avoid intestacy, a valid and enforceable will must be created and executed before death.
Two Types of Louisiana Wills
Wills created in 1999 or later must be in one of two forms to be enforceable in Louisiana. Specifically, a will must be a(n):
- Notarial will. Notarial wills may be what you think of as a traditionally executed will. Notarial wills must be in writing, dated, and signed before a notary and two witnesses. The testator (the person creating the will) must declare the document to be his will and sign each page of the document. The notary and witnesses must also sign, indicating that the testator declared the document to be his will and testament while in their presence. Special provisions can be made for people who don’t know how to sign their names, people who can’t read, people who are blind, and people who are deaf.
- Olographic will. Olographic wills must be handwritten by the testator and describe the testator’s wishes about how property should be distributed after his death. Louisiana law requires that olographic wills be dated with the day, month, and year on which the will was created and signed by the testator. Fill in the blank forms or typewritten wills are not valid olographic wills. The date may appear anywhere on the document. Typically, the testator’s signature should come at the end of the document. A court may or may not consider anything written below the testator’s signature as part of the will. When an olographic will is presented to a Louisiana court, two witnesses must testify that the testator wrote the will.
Either of these properly executed will forms should be accepted in Louisiana courts.
Other Types of Wills Recognized in Louisiana
Before 1999, other types of wills were recognized in Louisiana. These included but were not limited to, mystic wills, nuncupative testaments by public act, and nuncupative testaments by prior act. These wills remain valid today if they were properly executed according to the Louisiana law that was in effect when they were created.
Additionally, wills that are created in states other than Louisiana may be recognized as valid in Louisiana if the out-of-state will is: (1) in writing; (2) signed by the testator; and (3) in compliance with the laws of the state where it was created.
Is Your Loved One’s Will Valid?
You want your loved one’s wishes to be honored, but that can only be done if your loved one’s will is valid. Louisiana courts strictly interpret the rules for making wills. Therefore, any mistake in the creation or execution of the will could mean that your loved one’s property will pass by Louisiana’s laws of intestacy.
You can’t go back and change how your loved one’s will was executed, but it’s important to know if the will is likely to be recognized in a Louisiana court. You also need to know what you can do to make your loved one’s legal succession easier and faster for your family.
Our experienced New Orleans succession attorneys are here to help families throughout the state of Louisiana. Let us review your loved one’s will and other estate documents, so we can advise you of your legal options. We want to help you get through this time with as little stress and with as little expense as possible while we honor your loved one’s wishes and Louisiana law.
To get started, we invite you to call us today, or fill out our online form to have us contact you.