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Louisiana Legal Blog

Estate planning for same-sex couples in Louisiana

Same-sex couples now have the right to legally marry. With that new right comes the responsibility of looking at the future, and that could include estate planning. Same-sex couples in Louisiana may be wise to have clearly stated and concise estate plan documents that ensure their last wishes are taken into consideration, especially if children are involved.

A will is typically a given in an estate plan, but same-sex partners might also reinforce their wills with other legal documents such as a powers of attorney and trusts. A power of attorney gives a spouse -- or any other designated person -- the ability to make decisions on behalf of the party granting the power should he or she be unable to do so. A trust may be especially important for same-sex couples since it will give them a place to house their assets. A trust may also make things more difficult to contest. If one partner dies, contesting it is more of a challenge since trusts usually don't go through the probate process.

Pet problems: Protecting a pet after death

For some people, pets are like children. They may breed the animals or simply have found one that they love unconditionally. The reality is that most people don't want to die knowing that their pet may have nowhere to live out its days. The last thing that should happen is for a beloved and loyal pet to wind up in a shelter where it may or may not find a good home.

Pets grieve and should have support following the death of an owner. With a pet trust, you can make sure your pet goes home with someone who will provide the care it needs and guarantee its safety. Here's a little more about how a pet trust can help protect yours.

Child custody: Parenting out of 2 homes can be challenging

There are many adjustments to be made by everyone involved in a divorce situation. When it comes to child custody, parenting out of two homes can be a challenge, but with some good advice and care, children in Louisiana will adjust to their new ways of life. It's important that kids feel like they have a home with both their parents, regardless of how much time they spend there.

One of the wisest pieces of advice for parents is not to criticize the other parent, nor the other household. While the rules may vary in each place, having boundaries in place will ensure kids know that their parents are still in charge and that everything will be just fine. Making children aware of what to expect will help them to cope.

What adult kids want their parents to know about divorce

Children often bear a rash of negative emotions when their parents split up. That doesn't mean the kid is a minor, either. Many times, adult children in Louisiana whose parents have decided to divorce take it even harder, especially when their parents have been married for many years. It's never easy for kids -- no matter how old they are -- to hear their parents' marriage is ending and there are some things adult kids would like their divorcing parents to know.

Adult children may take their parents' divorce even harder if the parents waited to split up after their kids leave the nest. There might be a lot of guilt associated with that, leaving adult children thinking their parents put their own happiness on hold because of them. Adult children may also begin to question the entire institution of marriage when hit with the bombshell that their parents are breaking up. 

Living together without marriage: A major risk

When you moved in with your girlfriend or boyfriend, you were happy not to look into marriage. Neither of you wanted to tie the knot, but you were both happy being together. The problem is that you now want to split up, but you have no legal arrangements in place to protect your assets. You don't agree on what you should get versus what he or she should obtain, and it's a major concern to both of you.

As an unmarried couple, it's important to understand that you may not have the same protections that you would have if you'd gotten married in the past. The law treats you like separate individuals, which means you have no real rights or responsibilities if your relationship ends.

Estate planning in Louisiana for the younger crowd

Life has a way of throwing curve balls. There may be times when the unforeseen happens and it's best to be prepared for those just-in-case moments. It's most likely safe to say that the last thing on younger people's minds in Louisiana is estate planning, but that shouldn't be the case. Even when life is busy and the under 40 set is living it to the fullest, it may be wise to have estate documents in place, especially when young children are part of the family dynamic.

Many people also make the mistake believing that estate planning is only for those with copious amounts of wealth. Not so, say the experts. In fact, those with fewer assets should definitely think about things like life insurance, writing a will and naming a power of attorney. A will is especially important since it will document what is to be left to whom.

Estate planning in Louisiana when stepchildren are involved

Blended families are a way of familial life today. When it comes to estate planning, Louisiana residents who have stepchildren should be aware of some planning advice whether they wish to leave their stepchildren an inheritance or whether they don't. But even when stepchildren and stepparents have wonderful relationships, the law doesn't automatically view them as parents and children unless the stepparent has formally adopted the children. So, the law doesn't see them as being relations and those who die without specifically mentioning their stepchildren in a will may be doing those loved ones a disservice.

However, having an estate plan in place that specifically mentions stepchildren is a clear-cut way for them not to be left out of what a stepparent might have wanted them to have after the stepparent dies. Legacy laws vary from state to state and having a will is the best way for a person's last wishes to be fulfilled. Intestacy laws may keep stepchildren from inheriting anything from their stepparent's estates in the absence of a will.

Elder abuse: Taking advantage of seniors with dementia

It is heartbreaking to watch a loved one losing his or her memory and mental capacity. It is even more heart-wrenching when the elderly who suffer from dementia are taken advantage of. Elder abuse in Louisiana is a heinous act in itself, but when it is perpetrated against someone who struggles with dementia, it is even more abhorrent. Scammers are unscrupulous when it comes to trying to get what they're after; most often, it's money.

Many scammers use the telephone to prey on unsuspecting seniors. They come across as very professional, passing themselves off as officials or people of authority and often an elderly person with the beginning stages of dementia may believe every word uttered by these individuals. Broaching the subject with such a senior must be done delicately and without being accusatory.

Children may fight if you leave them your home

You have a firstborn son and a younger daughter. Your spouse passed away five years ago. You're getting your own estate planning in order to help pass your assets on to the children.

The biggest asset you own is your house. You raised the kids there. You have owned it for decades. The children still come home for Christmas. You add the house to your will, saying 50 percent ownership should go to your son and 50 percent should go to your daughter.

Family law in Louisiana: An unmarried father's rights

In the 21st century, more and more couples are having children without being married. Family law provisions in most states, including Louisiana, make it clear that fathers who have established paternity have rights in these instances, even when the relationships end. One of the most important laws across the United State is that when a child is born to unmarried parents and paternity is not presumed, the father doesn't have any rights when it comes to decision-making for the child, visiting the child or shared custody, so the first order of business is to establish paternity.

Including the father's name on the birth certificate is one way of doing that. If the dad can't be at the hospital to help mom in filling out the birth certificate, he can fill out and file a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form.  If the mother is contesting paternity, the man may need to go through the courts to have paternity established, which will entail a paternity test. The court may order the mother to cooperate regarding the testing should she be hesitant.

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