A will is also known as a “last will and testament” and is a document that spells out what is to happen to your estate after you die. You are “disposing” of your property and the instructions to do so are called “dispositions.” The person who writes a will is called the “testator.” There used to be several kinds of wills in Louisiana, but now there are only two: the notarial will and the holographic will.
A notarial will has formalities spelled out in the civil code. Among other things, it must be dated, your signature must be on every page, and it must be notarized in front of two witnesses at the end.
The holographic will is one that is completely hand-written by the testator. It still has to meet the other technical requirements of a will, so, like any do-it-yourself will, it is not at all recommended. The only kind of will an estate plan is going to have is, of course, a notarial will.
The will can be easily changed, either by writing a “codicil,” which is an amendment to the will, or simply writing an all new will. If there are two or more different wills floating around, the latest will is the one that is controlling.
Unless you plan to take advantage of the small-succession rules, a will is essential in your estate plan. Even a plan that is trust-based and intended to avoid probate should include a will. The kind of will used in that case is called a “pour-over will” because it “pours” remaining assets into the trust. This is a safety measure in case there are some assets that were not properly transferred to the trust or that were acquired after the trust was formed and just hadn’t been transferred yet.