October 15-21 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week.

And, of course, there are numerous articles on the subject that have just come out. Some are good, some so-so, and some totally miss the mark. That is especially the case for residents of Louisiana where our laws deviate from the other 49 states in significant ways.

However you look at it, the idea of getting people to at least think about their estate planning (or lack thereof) is a good thing. “It is a good time to take stock of life and do what is necessary.”

There is much more to estate planning than tax issues and the need for at least a basic will –which is especially important in Louisiana because of the way a spouse is treated in the absence of a will here. We cover these topics in detail in our Articles, on Forced Heirship, for example.

An article in Forbes makes some very valid points on why estate planning is important for reasons other than taxes:

“Meanwhile, the tax focus obscures the real estate-planning crisis affecting way more families. Nearly 2.5 million Americans die each year, and many haven’t signed the basic documents needed to protect loved ones. A 2011 Associated Press survey found 64% of baby boomers didn’t even have a living will, which anyone over the age of 18 should have.”

One estate planning document that is extremely important is a durable power of attorney. If a spouse with a retirement plan, or even an IRA, is incapacitated, the other spouse will have no access to those funds without a power of attorney. The only alternative is an interdiction which is an extremely expensive and unpleasant legal process.