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Making The Complex Understandable

Louisiana Legal Blog

A living will is an important part of Louisiana estate planning

Preparing for getting older requires some time spent creating appropriate legal documents. Louisiana residents preparing their estate plans may want to include a living will to ensure a well-rounded plan. A living will is important for many reasons, primarily since it conveys wishes for medical care when the individual making the document is not able to make those decisions due to incapacitation.

A living will differs from a last will in that it is enforceable while the testator is still alive and lets health care professionals know a person's wishes regarding issues such as pain management, end of life care. It can also indicate whether a person wants life-saving measures to be enacted in certain circumstances. It is regarded as an advance care directive as is a power of attorney or a health care proxy.

3 major issues when considering child support payments

When a couple decides their marriage is no longer viable, there are many issues to consider. Louisiana couples who decide that divorce is their only option need to think about their children and their welfare. In making decisions regarding child support and custody, family court judges will always consider what they believe are in the best interests of the children.

Courts will almost always order one parent to pay child support regardless of a custody situation -- whether one parent has sole custody or if the children are co-parented jointly. Child support guidelines vary from state to state, so calculating child support payments isn't always easy. Each case will vary with individual circumstances.

Nursing homes and financial abuse: What you should know

In a nursing home, your loved one should be receiving the best care. There should be no concern about financial abuse or having your loved one taken advantage of. Sadly, some elders are taken advantage of and have their life savings drained or are left with less as a result of the actions of others.

Financial abuse in care means that someone's property or money was taken without permission or fraudulently. While financial abuse of an elder typically involves a family member, anyone who has been trusted with their care may be involved in a case, including care providers.

Divorce affects education of children differently

Parents who go through divorce likely want only the best for their children. However, most children experience some impact from the ending of their parents' marriages. Researchers have long assumed that children of divorce are less likely to complete high school or attend college. However, a recent study has shown that there is a bit more nuance to that assumption that Louisiana families may find informative.

The study looked at the cases of over 11,500 children and nearly 5,000 mothers. Researchers wanted to find out if divorce impacted kids from varying socioeconomic backgrounds differently. Their findings indicate that kids from more affluent families with a low likelihood of divorce are more likely to have lower of levels education if their parents end up divorcing. Conversely, kids from families with a higher expected rate of divorce see almost no effect on their education levels when their parents divorce.

The importance of organization in the divorce process

Couples whose marriages have broken down and who are thinking about ending their unions may give some consideration to preparing before taking a formal step. Divorce can be difficult in the best of circumstances and when Louisiana residents take some time to organize, the process may be less costly, less anxiety-inducing and may be more amicable. The first step may be to make a checklist of assets -- both personal and joint.

Individuals should list such assets as bank accounts, credit card accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds and insurance policies. Estate planning documents should also be included in the mix as well as any documents for prepaid funerals. If pre or postnuptial documents are in existence, amassing these other papers may mean less time, anxiety and stress during a divorce.

Separating unmarried: 3 things to understand

You and your partner have been together for many years in Louisiana, but now you've decided to separate. Though you are well into your retirement years, you still need to separate your assets and move forward.

It can be hard for couples in this situation to move on, as much of their lives have been intertwined for so long. If that describes your situation, there are some things you may want to do to make separating easier.

Need for a health care directive increases as a person ages

Baby boomers are fast reaching retirement age in Louisiana. As that occurs, many of them may not yet have addressed end-of-life issues with their loved ones. No one knows the number of their days on earth, but everyone knows the number is finite. If one were to suddenly become unable to communicate, is there a person who has been empowered to communicate one's final wishes? A health care directive empowers a person to communicate wishes regarding health care and end-of-life care for a person who is no longer able to.

Communicating one's wishes to family members necessitates having a discussion few people are comfortable having. Knowing that one's final wishes are known and will be carried out can provide great peace of mind. When designating who that person will be, one should consider the person's ability to make life and death decisions at a difficult and highly emotional time.

Divorce and the financial disclosure

Is it a simple oversight, or perhaps something more devious? The paperwork suggests one thing, but something just doesn't seem right. When it comes to divorce, determining how much one should pay in child support and alimony may require looking beyond the initial financial disclosures required by the Louisiana court.

There are specific guidelines in place that typically govern how assets are divided and how much should be paid in child support and alimony. When filing for divorce, each party generally completes a financial statement detailing assets, income and liabilities. However, there can be sources of income that are not addressed in this disclosure.

Collecting Social Security spousal benefits after divorce

More than 95% of all American employees are covered by Social Security with the ability to collect benefits when they retire. For Louisiana residents who are married spousal benefits may figure into Social Security benefits. In the event of divorce, those benefits won't be lost, but it is important residents know their rights when it comes to how divorce can impact Social Security funds and what impact divorce might have on a retirement plan.

Even after divorce, a person may be entitled to spousal benefits under a Social Security plan, but the couple had to have been married for 10 or more years. That is also the case if a former spouse has remarried. There are conditions that have to be met: The person wishing to collect spousal benefits must be unmarried and must be 62 years of age or older; the former spouse must be eligible to collect Social Security benefits and the person wishing to collect has benefits that are less than his or her former spouse's. 

Unmarried couples may need help dividing property

When unmarried couples separate, they face unique legal challenges. They don't have the same protections as married couples, so dividing property can be difficult and contentious.

When you're not married, the law sees you as separate and will not protect your property as shared property. Instead, the person who purchased it technically owns it, even if you both used it.

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