Are you worried that the government would take whatever money is left when someone dies? You may even hear that you should put all your belongings into a trust to avoid these taxes. Neither is true.
There are many reasons to see a lawyer about filing the legal papers to transfer property from the person who died to his heirs (called a “succession”). As part of this process the lawyer will be able to determine if any of these taxes are owed. For persons who die after July 1, 2004, there is no inheritance tax in Louisiana. In 2021, there is a federal exemption from estate taxes on the first $11,700,000 in assets. As a result, there is little chance that most people will have to pay any inheritance or estate taxes.
While there are good reasons to create a trust, such as managing money for children who will not have the ability to manage it well, avoiding taxes is not one of them. There are people out there doing seminars and marketing “living trusts” to avoid taxes or succession proceedings, but these do not save taxes, and usually will cost you more in lawyer’s fees to draft, execute and put into effect than your heirs will pay a lawyer to handle your succession.
This is only general information. If you have specific questions or concerns about whether you should establish a trust, open a succession for someone who is deceased, or about inheritance or estate taxes, you should consult a lawyer. Legal Aid has experienced lawyers who handle these kinds of questions. Call Red River Council on Aging at (318) 932-5721 or Legal Aid of North Louisiana, 134 St. Denis Street, at (318) 352-7220 or (800) 960-9109 to find out if you qualify for free legal help. If you would like to learn more about Louisiana law, you can find information at LA-Law.org or LouisianaLawHelp.org la.freelegalanswers.org.
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