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Making The Complex Understandable

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Louisiana Legal Blog

Breaking up? It's time to find your assets

You and your boyfriend were together for a few years, and over that time collected many assets. You have furniture, cars, gaming systems, computers and many other items.

The biggest issue you have now is deciding how to divide this property when you break up. You want to move out, because you feel like you've grown apart. You are willing to be reasonable.

Estate planning: Converting IRAs in a volatile stock market

There has been a sell-off taking place in the stock market recently and that could actually be good news for those planning their estates. Louisiana residents who own stocks and who are thinking about estate planning should know there are ways to turn what most view as a negative situation into a more positive one by considering the ways the market downturn might be used to increase after-tax wealth, analysts say. One opportunity in particular may be of financial help and that's the conversion of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

With stock prices down, stockholders can convert more stock shares at a lower rate of tax. When traditional IRAs are converted into Roth IRAs, the amount converted is calculated in gross annual income for the tax year, while remaining in the Roth IRA. Lower stock values mean more stock shares or mutual funds can be converted at a lower tax cost.

Estate planning that keeps the peace among beneficiaries

One of the last things people want is having family members fight over their assets after they've died. Good estate planning is a primary key to ensure that doesn't happen. There is help for Louisiana residents who want to keep the peace in their families when it's time for their estate planning documents to be invoked. Knowing what a thorough estate plan includes is one way of keeping squabbles at bay.

It's true that having an estate plan containing all pertinent documents and perhaps trusts is vital. But just as important is having an open, honest conversation with loved ones about what those documents should contain. Having children and other potential beneficiaries weighing in on an estate plan could save much grief in the long run.

Elder law: Why a letter of competency is so crucial

Some documents are absolutely necessary for seniors to have in their portfolios or estate plans. Louisiana elder law paves the way for seniors who are still able to make their own decisions. One of the most important documents to have is a letter of competency. It could mean the difference between having a valid will and one that could be contested.

A lawyer can offer advice to an individual regarding a letter of competency during the estate planning process when a will is drafted, along with powers of attorney, health care directives and other crucial documents. Such a letter will go a long way to ensure that the testator was making decisions with a sound mind and without confusion. Making sure a testator has both the legal and medical capability of making decisions regarding his or her finances and health care should thwart any questioning as to the validity of the documents in place. 

Continuing Tutorship

A Continuing Tutorship is a legal process whereby the court decides that your child will not be competent to make decisions after he or she reaches 18 years old. Continuing tutorships are usually for children with special needs or disabilities who will be impaired from making their own decisions as an adult. Once a disabled child turns 18, the child is considered an adult and the parent may no longer make medical and financial decisions for the child.

Estate planning in Louisiana is important at every life stage

People who are busy with life, families and enjoying making memories rarely think about all that coming to a screeching halt one day. But at some point Louisiana residents should take time out of their busy lives to plan for the inevitable and that means devoting some time to estate planning. Estate plans aren't only for people in mid to late life, nor do they consist of just having a will. In fact, people in all stages of life would do well to have a comprehensive plan in place.

Even young people who have just completed their educations might think about having a plan. Of course it would be different from those who have a number of assets amassed, but it could still include a will, durable powers of attorney for health care and finances. When marriage or cohabitation is on the horizon, having an estate plan becomes even more important and documents -- along with those already mentioned -- could include life insurance, an advance care directive and updated beneficiaries in a will.

Hidden assets can come with serious ramifications in a divorce

Chances are that couples ending their marriages may have not always been honest with each other on some important issues. That can certainly translate into the divorce arena, especially if the question of hidden assets arises. Louisiana residents who are divorcing should always disclose their assets to a soon-to-be former spouse -- primarily because it's the law and also because the consequences for not doing so could be severe.

Hiding assets just isn't worth it, especially if a judge finds out and awards all those assets to the other spouse. It is incumbent upon each individual to be transparent where assets are concerned and to be at the ready to show income tax returns, bank statements and documents pertaining to retirement plans, stocks and bonds and the like. A recent study has shown that 33% of individuals have hidden a purchase from a spouse, which can cause issues in a marriage, but hiding such things in the divorce process may cause grim legal problems.

Financial exploitation of senior citizens is far too common

Senior citizens have lived long lives and deserve to live comfortably in their final days. Unfortunately, individuals at this age might have some mental, cognitive and physical decline that make them targets for abuse and exploitation. While it should never happen, it is always a possibility.

More than 7,300 reports of elder abuse are taken by the Louisiana Department of Health each year. And, these are only the reported cases. Many others likely go unreported for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that one out of every 44 elder abuse cases involving finances are reported. For the family members of elderly residents of this state, keeping a watchful eye for signs of financial exploitation and abuse is imperative.

What Louisiana parents can learn from celebrity divorce cases

When Louisiana parents decide to end their marriage, they must resolve numerous issues pertaining to their children. Some parents have never been married but also have issues to resolve if they decide to end their romantic relationships. Many celebrities have made the headlines because of divorce issues such as child support and custody disputes, the details of which can often help other parents avoid similar problems.

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline have been in and out of court since their divorce in 2007. Typically, a change in a parent's income or financial lifestyle can prompt litigation. When Federline learned that Spears had secured a high-priced luxury home, he filed a petition to request an increase in the $20,000 per month child support she was paying at the time. A court has children's best interests in the forefront, though it will want to see evidence of need before it modifies an existing court order.

Wills: Do they need to go through probate to be viewed?

When a person dies, distributing his or her estate can be a complicated process. Attorneys and financial planners here in Louisiana advise people to have a will to ensure that an estate is handled in the way the deceased person would have wanted it to be. Families or other beneficiaries may need a copy of a person's will, but the method of obtaining it depends on certain factors. Wills filed for probate have to be handled differently than those that have not been filed. 

First, if the will has been filed for probate, it is now part of public record and should be somewhat easier to obtain. The will usually gets filed in the probate court of the corresponding county where the estate owner lived when he or she passed away. The person making the request can appear in person at probate court and simply ask for a copy. He or she will need to pay a fee for the copy, which is calculated depending on the number of pages. If going to probate court in person isn't possible, a request can be sent by mail or fax.

Serving Orleans, St. Tammany, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Washington, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and Plaquemines Parishes
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Metairie, LA 70002

Phone: 504-662-9596
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