22 March, 2018
Joe Crown was a drunk. And a mean one at that. He was also cheap. So cheap that he drafted his own will. Bad idea. Just to be mean, he left his only child, Tommy Crown, a bucket of pennies. He left the rest of his estate to his sister, who was mean too. After Joe died, his sister found his handwritten will and brought it to an attorney, who contacted Joe's son, Tommy, and instructed him to claim his bucket of pennies. The will looked "funny" to Tommy, so he contacted a Louisiana estate planning attorney who advised him that the will was invalid under Louisiana law because Joe didn't sign it properly. Now Tommy, Joe's only child, is laughing all the way to the bank. Contesting a Last Will and Testament in Louisiana usually begins with a family member who isn't satisfied with the way the will is executed or written. Overturning a will usually has harsh and unintended results. Click here to read a 2018 Third Circuit Opinion affirming a judgment obtained by Theus Law Offices invalidating a will, which is a good example of a harsh result to a surviving spouse. The law is absolutely unforgiving when testing the validity of a will in Louisiana. A will can be challenged within five (5) years from the date the will is admitted to probate in Louisiana, which is a long time compared to other jurisdictions. Grounds for contesting a will include: 1. Lack of capacity (the Testator was unable to comprehend the nature and consequences of their act when executing the testament); 2. Undue influence (the testator was unduly influenced to leave a disposition to someone such that the will does not reflect the testator's intent); 3. Failure to observe formalities in the execution of a will (the notary and witnesses must be in the same room and the testator must make certain declarations before signing each page and at the end); 4. Improper form (there are two forms of a will recognized in Louisiana, namely a notarial will and an olographic will, both of which require a certain form) 5. Revoked will (a will can be revoked by authentic act or by destruction) 6. Forged will (someone other than the testator signed the will as a forgery) 7. Fraud or mistake (the testator was duped into signing the will, or was mistaken about what he or she was signing). A laughing heir is one who receives an unexpected windfall as a result of an invalid will, or the failure to execute a will. For every laughing heir, someone is crying because they were disinherited. You cannot be too careful when executing a will. Estate planning is no place to do it yourself or cut corners. If you need assistance contesting a will in Louisiana, or help with a Louisiana succession or probate, please contact Theus Law Offices to schedule a free consultation with an estate planning and probate administration specialist.
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