Free legal workshop on wills, affidavits set for Saturday

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, June 13, 2024

The expense of consulting with an attorney keeps plenty of folks from putting their house, property and business affairs  in order. A free workshop Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Simple Wills and  Succession by Affidavits could change that.

Making sure property documents and titles are up to date could make property owners eligible for future disaster relief. Government disaster and rebuilding programs want to see clear deeds and titles of applicants.

Such legal ownership documents are also necessary before selling property or getting permits to repair or demolish property. When a person’s property is condemned by the parish or city, the owner could save money by handling the demolition, but owners will need to obtain a permit from the city or parish before beginning the work. Even getting a permit to demolish one’s own property requires a permit, and that’s not issued unless the property is in the name of the person requesting the permit.

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 Join the SWLA Law Center, Lake Charles Councilman Ronnie Harvey, Councilman Craig Marks and the City of Lake Charles at the Lake Charles Event Center Contraband Room, 900 Lakeshore Drive for this workshop. It’s one of those workshops where most people who show up are in the same boat. They know little about the subject and that’s why they’re there.

“We are still seeing around 15 condemnations a month at Lake Charles City Council meetings,” said Tasha Guidry, Community Partners, event sponsor. “Citizens don’t realize that even if the city tears down the condemned property, they are still responsible for the cost.”

The cost of the demolition goes against the title of the property  (which could be in the name of multiple generations) as a lien. Just because momma or daddy left it to one person and the other family members know it, if the property is not in that person’s name, he or she will not be able to make decisions about what happens to it, sell it or get a permit for it.

“Title clearing is tedious, costly and time consuming. It can hold up the sale of property,” said Guidry. “Estate Planning can be very expensive. My parents paid thousands of dollars for this service.”

While it may seem like a daunting or even morbid task to plan what happens after death, it can have benefits such as peace of mind, making assets available for medical, funeral or other outstanding bills.

At a recent Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, the partial owner of a property being considered for demolition asked for a deferral, more time to allow her to get heir property in her name alone, possibly make repairs. If she couldn’t save the property that had been in her family for more than one generation, a home built from lumber milled and floated by the family down the river, she at least needed time to rescue aspects of it.

Not having the property in her name was a major issue, according to Wes Crain, CPPJ Planning and Development. She can’t start repairs without a permit.

“We don’t understand the importance of estate planning, or think we don’t have time,” Guidry said. “This protects our loved ones, and with this hurricane season predicted to be an active one, it is just one more way to be prepared.”

Bring applicable documents and information. The SWLA Law Center said the Decedent (person who died) must have had property in Calcasieu Parish. The value of the estate cannot exceed $125,000. A death certificate is required. The surviving spouse and all heirs to the property, including names, relationship and last known addresses must be provided. Bring a list of assets and value, a description of the property and whether the property is community or separate. If the decedent has a surviving spouse, he/she must sign and at least one of the decedent’s adult heirs. If the decedent did not leave a surviving spouse, the affidavit must be signed by two adult heirs. If there is one heir to the decedent, then the heir must sign. Someone who also has knowledge of the facts part of the affidavit must also sign.