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Be sure to include digital assets in estate planning efforts

When faced with the need to prepare one's estate, many Louisiana residents feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. They realize that creating a will is a good place to start, and many are interested in learning more about trusts as a vehicle for passing down wealth without significant tax losses. When it comes to less obvious estate planning needs, however, many people simply are unaware of how to proceed.

Digital assets are an excellent example of such a shortfall. The term "digital assets" refers to the body of online assets and information that a person has accumulated. It can refer to actual accounts, such as Paypal, Venmo or Bitcoin. However, it also refers to accounts that hold other items of value, such as photographs, emails or social media information.

Ruling may impact future military property division cases

For Louisiana residents who have also served as members of the United States military, determining how to divide military benefits is a top priority when their marriage is reaching an end. A recent court case has clarified how retirement savings will be handled after a divorce. That ruling has led to debate in many circles, and concern over how to structure the best possible property division settlement for military members and their spouses.

The case centered on a man who served in and retired from the Air Force. He and his wife divorced in 1991 after being married for 13 years. He retired a year after their divorce, and part of their agreement was that she would receive a 50 percent share of his retirement pay. Years later, he filed for and received VA disability due to a shoulder injury that came about during his time in service.

How to re-evaluate financial goals following a divorce

The end of a marriage marks the close of one chapter in an individual's life. That said, far too many Louisiana residents focus on divorce is an end, rather than as a new beginning. At the same time that the door will close on one chapter of life, another door opens onto a world of new possibilities. Re-evaluating financial goals throughout the divorce process can help make these possibilities even rosier, and can provide a new foundation of financial stability that will last for many years to come.

Spouses should begin by giving some thought to how they would like their life to be shaped in the years following their divorce. Very often, divorce involves significant downsizing on the part of both parties. That is not always a bad thing, and spouses should consider how they would like to structure their living arrangements once the divorce is made final. Selecting a less expensive housing option is a great way to set aside funds and bolster financial security.

3 types of elder abuse you need to know about

Elder abuse can take place in any nursing facility or as a result of an at-home caretaker not caring for your family member appropriately. Elder abuse is a serious concern and not something to be taken lightly. Sometimes, this kind of abuse is physical, but it can also take other forms.

Three main types of elder abuse that you need to know about are financial abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. Any of these kinds of abuse can not only cause your loved one to suffer, but can also impact the person's estate.

The importance of budgeting during the divorce process

When it comes to managing household finances, most Louisiana spouses will find the task far different once their marriage has ended. In many cases, one spouse assumes responsibility for all financial matters during the marriage, while the other takes on a different set of tasks. Even in situations where both parties work together to manage their money, the sheer volume of changes that occur as part of a divorce will alter the financial landscape for both individuals. Addressing those changes early in the divorce process is a critical part of reaching a favorable settlement.

A good place to begin is by creating a comprehensive list of all current expenses. This should include the basics associated with housing, food and other necessities. It should also incorporate expenses that do not occur on a monthly basis, but that are unavoidable. This includes the costs of owning and maintaining a vehicle, pet care costs and home repair expenses. Be sure to think about entertainment and recreation expenses, as well.

Questionable child custody practice leads to bad outcome

Going through a custody battle is never an easy thing for parents, whether in Louisiana or elsewhere. There are some cases, however, that are far more distressing than others. When parents are unable to come to terms and have an overwhelmingly negative relationship, the children at the center of the matter often suffer. Such was the case for one high-profile child custody fight that went on for many years.

The family had four children, all of whom were estranged from their father and had no interest in visiting with him. The case stretched on for six years before things took a turn for the worst. At a hearing, the judge in the case ordered that the children be sent to a special "reunification" program in a state on the other side of the country. Their mother was ordered to go home and prepare the children for a visit to their therapist, where they would then be sent with their father without their knowledge or consent. The mother was told that, if the children did not go with him, she would be arrested.

Courtroom win for father in adoption consent case

Opening one's home to a child in need is a gift beyond compare. However, when an adoption is not processed legally and according to established guidelines, the outcome can be devastating to multiple Louisiana families. An example is found in a recent court case in which a father has regained child custody rights to a child that his former girlfriend placed for adoption without his consent.

His courtroom victory comes nine years after his daughter was placed for adoption. At that time, the mother relocated from her state of residence to a state with less stringent adoption rules so that she could make decisions regarding her unborn child without the involvement of the biological father. The infant was placed in the care of the mother's brother and sister-in-law.

Alex Jones of InfoWars loses child custody case

Many Louisiana readers are familiar with the name Alex Jones. Jones is the man behind the controversial alt-right platform known as InfoWars, which focuses on outrageous conspiracy theories and sensational content. Jones has made a name for himself by engaging in debates and activities that many find objectionable. In a recent child custody case brought on by his former wife, those choices may have come back to haunt Jones.

After Alex and Kelly Jones split, Alex was declared the "managing conservator" of the couple's three shared children. That allowed him to make virtually all decisions related to their care, including where they would reside. Kelly Jones received visitation, and only saw her children approximately five times over the course of a year. In a recent hearing, Kelly Jones argued that her former husband's public persona was in line with his private actions, and that he was not a fit parent.

Louisiana House declines to shorten waiting period for divorce

Many readers are aware of recently proposed legislation that would shorten the waiting period for residents who are in the process of divorcing. The proposed bill would have reduced the mandatory waiting period from one year to just six months. The matter went no further than the Louisiana House of Representatives, however, after a recent vote failed to get the support needed to move the divorce legislation forward.

Those who support lengthy waiting periods often refer to the time as a "cooling off" period. The idea is that if you place an obstacle into the path of a couple who is seeking divorce, they will have the time needed to work out their differences and save their marriage. That may be the case for some couples, but for many, divorce was not something that was decided on a whim. Many spouses consider divorce for many months, even years, prior to filing.

Medicaid planning: What you need to know about eligibility in Louisiana

The cost of long-term care is high and will likely only get higher as Baby Boomers age. Even if you have saved a significant nest egg for retirement, your assets could quickly be drained by the costs of elder care.

Medicaid can be very helpful in defraying the cost of nursing home care or assisted living, but qualifying for Medicaid can be complicated.

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