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QUESTION: I am an only child. My mother and I were told we do not need a will because I am an only child. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a will or not having one? Will it be easier after my mom's death with or without a will?
ANSWER: First, it is important to differentiate between a Living Will and a Last Will and Testament. A living will is effective only when a person becomes terminally ill or has an irreversible condition. A living will basically gives medical instructions on what type of final care a patient would like to receive when two more medical doctors are of the opinion that death is imminent. A traditional or "last will" on the other hand is not effective until the testator – the author of the will – passes away. The two types of traditional wills are olographic - written, dated and signed by the testator - or statutory - executed in the presence of a notary and two witnesses.
The disadvantage of dying without a will is that whatever intentions you had for your property - both separate property and community property, which make up your "estate" - die with you if you did not express your intentions in a will! Without a will, or testament, your succession is considered "intestate," and the rules of the intestate succession statutes – Civil Code 880 and following - come into play.
A will allows you to decide which specific property belonging to you goes to which specific person or party you choose. You may also name an executor, and specify how certain debts are to be addressed. Because it removes so much confusion and often streamlines the pace of a succession, it is almost universally suggested that having a will is better than not having one.
QUESTION: If you are a convicted felon and cannot possess a weapon, would it be a crime to be at a hunting camp where guns are present?
ANSWER: "Possess" is a very subjective term under the law. It has well been established that someone can possess a controlled substance illegally without actually having on their person. It is known as "constructive possession," and under this theory, more than one person can possess something. The same theory is used in the illegal possession of a weapon. It does not have to be in a person's hands or on their person to be considered possession.
However, the case of State v. Scott, 136. So.3d 383(La.App. 4 Cir 2/26/14), explained some of the elements of constructive possession. The Court stated that in order to prove constructive possession, the State must prove that the felon either had "dominion and control" over the gun, or "an intent to possess, not just mere acquiescence to the fact there was a firearm in his presence." The court went on to say that awareness that the felon is "around" a firearm is not, by itself, a violation of the statute.
So, unless some of the other elements are present, just being "around" some firearms at a hunting camp is not, by itself, a violation of the statute.
QUESTION: I got served with a lawsuit, and the instructions talked about deadlines for filing exceptions? What are exceptions?
ANSWER: Whenever a Petition (lawsuit) is filed, the defendant can either affirm the allegations or deny them, OR the defendant can "except" to either to court or the person bringing the claims BEFORE addressing whether the allegations have merit or not.
One may "except" to the court in which the proceedings are filed. For example, if someone files a domestic matter or a bankruptcy in City Court, an appropriate response would be an "Exception of Jurisdiction", as City Courts do not have jurisdiction over domestic or bankruptcy matters. It is also common to file with a court that has jurisdiction, but it is not the appropriate venue. For example, an action on a contract is proper (1) where the contract was executed, or (2) where the work was to be performed. If a lawsuit is filed in other than one of those two places, for example, where the parties reside, an "Exception of Venue" can be filed.
Two other common exceptions are "Exception of No Cause" and "Exception of No Right".
"No Cause" refers to when someone is filing suit but not based on a "legally recognizable action". In more common language, you cannot sue "for that" in Louisiana.
"No right" is actually the name for two different grounds for exceptions: (1) one refers to the person filing the petition as not being the appropriate person – for example, you may acknowledge that someone has a claim, but that someone is not you. A classic example is sometimes a stepchild will file suit on behalf of a step parent, and an "Exception of No Right" is filed. The defendant may acknowledge that the stepparent is entitled to something, but the stepchild has no statutory right to sue for it. (2) Another type of "No Right" is when your position is that although you may have the basis to sue someone, that someone is not me. For example, if my child who is above the age of majority incurs a debt, you may not have a claim to recover any of the debt me, as the parent. The parent can file an "Exception of No Right", claiming that whether the debt is legitimate or not, you can not recover from me.
Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.