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Louisiana Legal Blog

AB trusts in estate planning in Louisiana

Writing an estate plan can be a bit confusing. There are a lot of terms that likely aren't too clear, but having some knowledge about what they mean may make estate planning decisions for Louisiana residents much easier and less time-consuming. For instance, many people might not be aware of what an AB trust is in an estate plan. An A trust is sometimes referred to as a marital trust or a marital deduction trust, while a B trust is sometimes called a bypass, credit shelter or family trust.

Changes in federal laws which came into play in 2014 meant married couples could pass on more than $10.6 million to heirs tax free without the need for AB trusts. That doesn't mean these trusts have become dinosaurs. They are still needed in certain situations. For instance, if spouses have different beneficiaries, which may be the case if in a second marriage, they may each wish to leave their own children assets after each spouse has died. An AB trust can be used in these instances.

Estate planning: Declining an inheritance in Louisiana

Loved ones usually expect to be included in a close family member's will. But in certain situations an inheritance is neither expected, nor wanted. Most Louisiana residents don't realize this during their estate planning, but there are things a beneficiary can do when he or she doesn't want to accept an inheritance -- even a surviving spouse. 

Those who opt out of an inheritance can fill out a qualified disclaimer, which is a refusal to accept property meeting the provisions set forth in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Tax Reform Act of 1976. This allows for the property or interest in property to be treated as though it was never received. Any assets go to another beneficiary or heir in this case.

Here are 3 things to do when you separate property

You and your partner decided not to get married, and it turns out that it was a good idea. After 10 years of life spent together, you've decided to go your own ways and need to move on with your lives.

Now, you're in a dilemma, because almost all your property is shared. You're not married, though, so you're not held to the same distribution laws as those who are. How do you decide who receives what?

Elder law: Granny cams allowed in all Louisiana nursing homes

Those who have been abusive to the elderly in nursing homes better smile because they may be on camera. Louisiana nursing homes now have to tell their residents that they are allowed to install security cameras in their rooms. Elder law in the state tries to ensure the well-being of senior citizens, and advocates of the move say this is a step in the right direction. 

These cameras aren't mandatory but can be installed if a resident wants one. Residents and/or their families are responsible for the cost, maintenance and upkeep of the cameras. The new law allows family members to monitor what happens with their loved ones in care and to make sure they're being treated well. There are hopes that these cameras will halt elder abuse and pinpoint the cause of accidents or injuries to seniors.

Estate planning in Louisiana after a divorce

Writing an estate plan is necessary, but can also be confusing. It can be doubly so when that estate planning happens after a divorce. But with knowledge comes wisdom and divorced Louisiana residents need to have comprehensive estate plans that speak to many important issues. Residents who already have estate plans, should revise them after a separation or a divorce.

A former spouse will no doubt have been included in any existing estate plans, so it's imperative any existing provisions are overhauled in that respect. Other documents, besides a will, may also need revisions such as a power of attorney, a health care directive, trusts or guardianship details pertaining to minor children. If life insurance policies and retirement plans are a part of the picture, they may also need updating.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife headed for divorce

The marriage of one of the richest men in the world is coming to an end. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, are headed for divorce. When marriages break down in Louisiana and elsewhere in the country, family law rules apply even when -- as in Bezos' case -- a fortune of $137 billion is at stake. 

Bezos actually announced the breakdown of his marriage on a social media site. Although he and his soon-to-be former wife have said they will remain cherished friends, talk centers around how assets accumulated during the marriage will be divided. The couple was married before the founding of Amazon, so MacKenzie Bezos would have a claim to those assets. Apparently, the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement.

Mental capacity and estate planning in Louisiana

Not all people who have estate plans were in the best frame of mind when creating the various documents that go into those plans. In Louisiana for estate planning documents to be legally binding, the person must be of sound mind. In other words, they must have the mental capacity to understand what it is that is being written and what they are signing. People can have off days, it's true, and the matter of capacity is more important for certain documents like wills.

Other areas the law specifies that mental acuity is most relevant and necessary is in the writing of contracts, when appointing guardians and consenting to certain medical treatments such as in health care directives. Being declared legally competent when writing legal documents is actually one that is governed by law and not by the medical profession. So, should the issue raise its head, a judge would be the one who decides. 

You can help stop financial abuse by recognizing the signs

Financial exploitation can happen to anyone, but it's more likely to happen to those who easily become confused. This is one of the reasons why the elderly are much more likely to be victims of financial exploitation than others.

The sad truth about this kind of exploitation is that it often involves those who are closest to the elder. This can include people such as:

  • Pastors
  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Friends
  • Neighbors
  • Caretakers
  • Family members
  • Bank employees

Louisiana Medicaid planning: Who qualifies for care?

Let's face it, everyone gets older, and sooner or later everyone may need some help managing life. Some may need more help than others and so Medicaid planning is essential in case the future holds taking up residence in a nursing home or a long-term care facility or if help may be needed for aging Louisiana residents to stay in their own homes. In order to be considered for Medicaid, a person has to meet certain criteria.

To be considered eligible, a person has to be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal alien. He or she must have a Social Security number, have a monthly income that's three times lower than his or her monthly SSI benefit rate, have resources that are less than $2,000 if he or she is single or less than $3,000 if applying as a couple. Other criteria to be considered includes being under the age of 18 or 65 years of age or older, legally blind or disabled and receiving SS disability benefits or have that distinction made in Louisiana by a BHSF Medical Eligibility Determination Team.

Child custody: Being a noncustodial parent in Louisiana

There are challenges when it comes to being a noncustodial parent after going through a divorce, one of which includes maintaining a positive relationship with the children. When it comes to child custody in Louisiana, the time noncustodial parents spend with their kids is governed, for the most part, by a calendar. But that doesn't mean the kids, nor the parents need to suffer.

The rights of noncustodial parents may differ in each individual circumstance. These parents must understand what it means to them. If anything is unclear, the parent has the right to have clarification on when he or she gets to spend time with the kids and what he or she is entitled to do with them such as bringing them to medical appointments or to school or even talking with them on the phone when they aren't with their children.

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