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Making The Complex Understandable

Louisiana Legal Blog

Inherited a shared property? You can resolve your dispute

You and your siblings were fortunate enough to be a part of your parents' wills. In the end, you were left the family home, which is worth nearly $500,000. You and your two siblings stand to have a major change in your lives as a result of that money, but only if you can agree on what to do with the home.

Your sister argues that it would be smarter to rent the property and to have continual income. The home is large enough to rent to multiple parties or to one family for thousands a month.

Estate planning: The merits of keeping some assets separate

There is an old adage that says don't put all of your eggs in one basket. According to some financial experts, the same could be said about the assets of each spouse in a marriage. Louisiana residents who have tied the knot, don't have to have all their assets tied together and estate planning can be reflective of that. Keeping some things separate might also be wise when planning for unforeseen events like divorce.

Keeping some assets separate in an estate plan could provide an extra safeguard in the event of a testator's death. It may ensure beneficiaries' inheritances are protected in the event a spouse remarries. Keeping some property separate ensures a testator maintains some control over that asset and to whom it should go after death. This separate property could constitute cash, any real estate, or investments made before marriage, or inheritances or gifts received during the marriage.

Divorce: Splitting assets upon your split

One of the aspects most readily touched by a couple whose marriage is ending, is finances. Divorce can make people do all kinds of crazy things. When it comes to money and divorce, Louisiana residents should know what they can do so their personal finances are protected in a divorce situation. No one likes to think former spouses would treat each other unfairly, but it does happen.

Louisiana is a community property state, which means all assets amassed during the marriage are typically split equally upon divorce, though there are some exceptions. Considering this law, a couple must figure out their net worth and that includes property and assets like fine art, jewellery and collections. The easiest way to go about this may be to have an appraiser involved in the process.

Estate planning without heirs? It's still necessary

Estate planning can be complex, but this is particularly true if you don't have heirs or a surviving spouse. In that case, you will need to be very specific in your estate plan when describing whom you'd like to have receive your assets. You'll also have to be cautious when choosing an appropriate health care proxy and power of attorney.

It may not be easy if you don't have family, but that doesn't mean you can't have an estate plan (or that you shouldn't). In fact, it may be even more important for you to have an estate plan, since the court will need further guidance.

Opening up communication about estate planning in Louisiana

Nobody likes to talk about end of life issues. But for estate planning to be truly successful, Louisiana residents need to have heart-to-heart conversations about their plans with their loved ones. And it's not only about who will be getting what; it's also about what the individual making the plan wants regarding medical treatment when he or she is incapacitated and unable to make those decisions. There are some ways to get the dialogue going.

Bringing up an estate planning article that deals with the subject may get people more open to talking about these things. The conversation needn't be forced, but could be brought up saying some thought is being given to estate planning and what that might look like. Not talking about estate planning could create difficulties, so even when it's initially uncomfortable to bring up, once the topic is out in the open, loved ones are more apt to offer their input.

The many faces of domestic violence in Louisiana

Violence has far-reaching hands when it comes to many aspects of relationships it affects. Domestic violence can also have a profound impact on the finances of  Louisiana residents on the receiving end of that violence. The term violence within a domestic relationship can mean more than physical violence. The abuse can also be sexual, emotional, verbal, coercive, digital or financial.

Statistics show that about 10 million people in the United States are affected by domestic violence each year. One in three women and about one in four men are said to experience some form of physical violence with an intimate partner during their lifetime. It can impact a person financially by way of medical costs, education that might be disrupted, inability to go to work and damage to credit rating. It may even lead to having to declare personal bankruptcy.

Concerning elder law issues in Louisiana and beyond

There are many nursing homes and assisted living centers in Louisiana, as well as in most other states across the country. While an adult child of an elderly patient would no doubt hope he or she would never have need of an elder law attorney, it pays to know where to find help should a problem ever arise. In a perfect world, every nursing home and assisted living facility would function consistent with the highest safety standards. In reality, it does not always happen that way.

Numerous factors place elders at risk for abuse or nursing negligence. Those who suffer with dementia are particularly at risk because they might not be able to recognize signs of abuse or realize they are being mistreated. The abuse or neglect is not always physical -- it can occur on an emotional, mental or financial level as well.

Special needs trusts can secure the future of a child

When Louisiana parents have a child with special needs, they may be able to provide that child with the services and medical care necessary only with the assistance of certain government programs. However, to qualify for these programs the child can only own assets with a total value under $2,000. A child may become ineligible for that critical assistance if his or her financial worth exceeds that amount, such as if the child receives an inheritance. This is why many parents create special needs trusts for their children who depend on such programs.

A special needs trust becomes the owner of any assets funded to it, so parents and others can leave inheritances that will not jeopardize the child's eligibility for beneficial programs. The trust can be set up to provide for housing costs, clothing, entertainment and other expenses. The child can continue to receive the government benefits, and the income from the trust can supplement that amount.

Unmarried couples are legally individuals

You and your partner have lived together for the last decade. You never got married. Your partner brought it up a few times, but you didn't want to go forward with it. Your own parents got divorced, after all. You saw how the marriage ended. It soured you on the idea and, though you loved your partner, you just did not want to put yourself in that position.

The issue is that now your relationship is ending. You've decided to break up. But this isn't like a college breakup. You're adults with full-time jobs. You've spent 10 years together buying assets and investing in a future. You want to make sure you get back what you legally own. Do you have any rights?

Tips for Louisiana residents for a less tense divorce experience

There is never an outright easy way to end a marriage. However, Louisiana couples who have decided that divorce is their only option may find it less stressful and daunting knowing that there are some ways to make the process more tolerable -- for their own sakes and for the benefit of any children they share. The first word of advice from experts is not to go through things alone -- to make sure a support system of family and friends is in place.

Talking to a therapist about what's happening may also be a good idea since he or she can listen without bias or judgment. Sitting at home wallowing in self-pity doesn't help matters either. Experts say getting out and creating new memories may help to ease the pain of divorce as does getting off the sofa and getting some exercise.

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