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Making The Complex Understandable

Louisiana Legal Blog

Thoughts on divorce after the age of 50

Many Louisiana residents get close to retirement and begin taking a closer look at their lives and goals. For some, that examination reveals deep doubts about whether remaining married is the best way to enter the golden years of retirement. More and more people are seeking divorce after the age of 50. For some, there will be surprises along the way. 

One thing that many people don't expect is the changes in their social circle that often accompany divorce. It is not uncommon for friends, even old friends, to become distant during and after a divorce. People sometimes have trouble relating to a friend when his or her marital status shifts. The best way to address this outcome is by getting out there and making new social connections. 

Baby boomers and estate planning: There’s work to be done

Many baby boomers never think twice about estate planning. Here's why: They created an estate plan early in life, so they don't see any reason to revisit this now that they are closing in on (or have passed) retirement age.

Unfortunately, this approach is a big mistake. As a baby boomer, you need to review your estate plan with an eye toward your current situation and the future.

A pet trust can ensure that your furry friend is cared for after you're gone

A wonderful thing about estate planning is that you have many options for achieving your goals. These days, for a lot of people, a comprehensive estate plan includes providing for pets.

Whether you're a breeder or you just love your pet endlessly, a pet trust could be an important part of your estate plan. In fact, Louisiana enacted a pet trust law in 2015. A pet trust protects your furry friend from harm after you are gone. For example, a pet trust can ensure that your cat or dog will not go to a shelter, and that enough funds are available to provide for the pet's needs.

Reciprocal wills may be part of a couple's estate plan

Estate planning is not just for rich people. There are many reasons why most of the less wealthy residents of Louisiana would also benefit from an estate plan. One strong motivator would be if there are minor children. In that situation, the parents would make out mutually reciprocal wills, leaving their estates to each other and then to the children, usually in equal shares, in the event that both parents are deceased.

Reciprocal wills can contain testamentary trusts in which an appointed trustee would use the trust for the education, health and welfare of the children. Instead of releasing the trust corpus to the children at age 18, the trust can be set up to provide staggered distributions at later ages. Alternatively, the maker can provide for one distribution of each child's share at, for example, age 25. 

Child support does not automatically include college costs

For many Louisiana spouses, planning for the future is hard while in the middle of a divorce. Unfortunately, the decisions made during this challenging time will shape the financial lives of both parties for many years to come. One thing to consider is the fact that child support does not automatically cover the cost of a college education. Unless financial obligations for tuition and expenses are laid out in the divorce agreement, those costs could fall squarely on the shoulders of one parent.

During divorce negotiations, parents should discuss the expectations that each party has in regard to financing the education of shared children. If both parties agree to assist in funding those expenses, they should be sure to outline the terms in writing. The agreement can be as simple or as complex as needed, and it can be structured to meet the unique needs of each family. 

Are you familiar with the benefits of a special needs trust?

There could come a time when you realize that a special needs trust is an absolute must. This is a big part of an estate plan if you have an heir or beneficiary who lives with a physical or mental disability.

If your loved one does not have the capacity to manage his or her finances after your passing, you can use a special needs trust to ensure your loved one's well-being.

Can addiction cause a parent to lose child custody rights? Maybe

For many Louisiana families, addiction is a topic that hits far too close to home. Drug and alcohol dependency creates a wide range of problems, especially when there are children involved. For parents who face a child custody battle with a former partner who has addiction issues, it's important to understand how the courts address such matters.

Many parents are surprised to learn that an individual with a history of drug or alcohol addiction will not necessarily lose rights to his or her child. The courts place the best interests of the child above all else, and strive to maintain and support a strong parent-child bond. Unless one parent places a child in harm's way, he or she will often retain parental rights.

Splitting up: Determining what you own when you're not married

Ending a long-term relationship is difficult. Even though you never got married, you're facing complex issues with regard to who owns what property. The reality is that married couples in Louisiana retain certain community property rights that are not afforded to couples who never legally married.

If there are certain items that you want to make sure you retain, then you may be able to prove that you own them. How? Keep receipts, provide titles and have registration numbers. The more proof you have to say something is yours, the better.

Know these 3 important kinds of trusts

Trusts make it easier to pass on your assets to beneficiaries in the manner that you see fit. Trusts are also great for minimizing taxation and avoiding probate.

In fact, there are many types of trusts to choose from. In general, trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. And one particular kind of trust -- a special needs trust -- is an effective way of providing for a vulnerable loved one.

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