Powers of Attorney: Always Have A Plan B!

The decision on who should be your agent for your power of attorney is usually a fairly easy one. Most people will usually select their spouse or a close friend or family member. However, the more difficult question is who does a person want to serve as the successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve.

It is strongly advised that you name a successor agent in the event that the agent is unwilling or unable to serve. Your agent may die, become incapacitated or simply not wish to serve for any reason. If your agent is unwilling or unable to serve, an interdiction proceeding will have to be filed to appoint you a guardian to administer your person and property if you failed to name a successor agent.

Therefore, always name a back up successor agent in your power of attorney. Never assume that an agent will be willing or able to serve as your agent when and if you lose capacity.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Divorce: Beware of the Internet!!

In today’s social media internet world, people open up their private lives to family, friends and the public. People can post private photographs and post private information about themselves and their personal lives. People also use the internet to write letters or text messages to others.

These internet activities should be stopped during a divorce and during the estrangement of any marriage. Private information posted on social media can never be deleted and may be subject to discovery by the opposing spouse. This can have serious consequences since evidence from social media may be used as evidence against you. This can have adverse effects on proving fault, alimony child custody and child support.

Further, parties should avoid using texting , email and other forms of written internet communication with spouses and others during a divorce. Again, these communications can never be totally deleted and can be used as evidence in divorce issues.

It is important to remember that when you go on the internet, the right to privacy that you thought you have, may not exist.

If you have any questions about divorce, you should consult an experienced divorce attorney. Kent S. DeJean

How Do I Change My Will?

It is important that you do not change your will by handwriting corrections on the original executed document. These changes may or may not be enforced by a Louisiana court if it is found that you have not followed specific form requirements.

You should not give verbal instructions of your changes to relatives or friends. Verbal wills or changes are not recognized under Louisiana law.

If you do have changes to your will, you should contact an attorney. This will insure that your intentions will declared legally.

You should execute another will revoking the previously executed will that you wish to change. You can also execute a codicil which is an short will adding or deleting provisions of the original will. However, it is very important to remember that these documents must follow specific form requirements. If they are not executed in the proper form, they will not be recognized or enforced by the court.

If you have any questions, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Who Will Make My Funeral Arrangements?

Under Louisiana law, the following persons will have the authority to make decisions concerning your funeral arrangements and internment when you die, in the following descending order:

(1) The surviving spouse, if no petition for divorce has been filed by either spouse prior to the death of the decedent spouse.
(2) A majority of the surviving adult children of the decedent, not including grandchildren or other more remote descendants.
(3) The surviving parents of the decedent.
(4) A majority of the surviving adult brothers and sisters of the decedent.
(5) A majority of the adult persons respectively in the next degrees of kindred as established by law.

If you wish to be cremated, it is important that you execute an Affidavit of Disposition of remains. The funeral home director will be required to honor your wishes to be cremated once he is presented with this affidavit.

If you wish to make sure that your own funeral arrangements are done, it is a good idea to have a pre-planned funeral arrangements set up with a funeral home in the event of your death.

Should you have any questions, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Will My Spouse Get My Inheritance In The Divorce?

Under Louisiana law, the answer to the question is maybe.

The general rule under Louisiana law, is that inherited property is considered to be the separate property of that spouse and the other spouse is not entitled. In fact, the other spouse is not even entitled to it even if the inheritance was obtained during the marriage.

The problem is that assets change. Assets are liquidated, sold, and co-mingled with other community property. Also, income may be made on a separate asset which is community property and could be mixed back in with the separate property. Over time, an asset may start out as a separate asset only to slowly become mixed up with community property. This is particularly true of investments.

If you want your inheritance to remain your separate property, there are several things that can be done to protect your rights:

1. Have the spouses execute a Community Property Partition or an Act of Acknowledgment declaring the asset to be the separate property of a particular spouse;

2. Keep very accurate and complete records of separate assets; and/or

3. Enter into a Post Nuptial Agreement with court approval.

Should you have any questions on divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Long Distance Caregiving – How To Make It Work

Long distance caregiving brings some unique challenges only because of the distance involved; otherwise, the issues and challenges are the same as they are for any other caregiver. However, there are some hints that can make the caregiving experience easier.

It’s important to remember that you can’t do it all at once. Take one step at a time, and remember that you do not need to do it alone. Being far away doesn’t mean that you can’t be a primary caregiver; it just means it takes more energy and patience. If you can’t be the primary caregiver, your role may be that of the person who is able to offer emotional support and respite to the primary caregiver.

One of the first things you will need to do is gather information about your loved one and about the resources available in the community. Try to build a network in your loved one’s community and stay in touch with them on a regular basis. It may be helpful for you to hire a geriatric care manager (GCM) to help coordinate services. These are knowledgeable professionals, usually a nurse or social worker, who specialize in geriatrics.

Each time you visit, assess the safety issues and check that medications and meals are being administered and eaten. Assess whether your loved one is at risk for being taken advantage of financially by scam artists and door-to-door salesmen or telephone marketers.

For each concern that arises, there is an answer and someone who can help you. The key is to know what resources are available and to ASK FOR HELP. You really don’t need to do it all alone.

My Spouse Cheated On Me! Can I Take Him To The Cleaners?

Under Louisiana law, there are only certain areas where fault comes into play in determining an outcome on an issue.

For example, fault does not come into play in dividing community property and debts. Each party gets or is responsible for one half. Unlike other states, the fact that one party may be the bad guy doesn’t entitle the other spouse to more assets.

Fault also does not come into play on the issue of child custody. Unless the adulterous relationship is not in the best interest of the children, adultery will not be considered.

Where fault does come into play,the person requesting alimony cannot be guilty of fault. So, a person guilty of adultery, may not be able to get spousal support.

Also, a spouse may be able to obtain a quicker divorce if adultery can be satisfactory proven. Normally, a married couple may have to wait six or twelve months to obtain a divorce. If a person is guilty of adultery, Louisiana law allows the other person to obtain a divorce immediately.

If you should have any questions concerning divorce, please contact an experienced divorce attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Get Credit for Child and Dependent Care This Summer

Many parents pay for childcare or day camps in the summer while they work. If this applies to you, your costs may qualify for a federal tax credit that can lower your taxes. Here are 10 facts that you should know about the Child and Dependent Care Credit:

1. Your expenses must be for the care of one or more qualifying persons. Your dependent child or children under age 13 usually qualify. For more about this rule see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.

2. Your expenses for care must be work-related. This means that you must pay for the care so you can work or look for work. This rule also applies to your spouse if you file a joint return. Your spouse meets this rule during any month they are a full-time student. They also meet it if they’re physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

3. You must have earned income, such as from wages, salaries and tips. It also includes net earnings from self-employment. Your spouse must also have earned income if you file jointly. Your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care. This rule also applies to you if you file a joint return. Refer to Publication 503 for more details.

4. As a rule, if you’re married you must file a joint return to take the credit. But this rule doesn’t apply if you’re legally separated or if you and your spouse live apart.

5. You may qualify for the credit whether you pay for care at home, at a daycare facility or at a day camp.

6. The credit is a percentage of the qualified expenses you pay. It can be as much as 35 percent of your expenses, depending on your income.

7. The total expense that you can use for the credit in a year is limited. The limit is $3,000 for one qualifying person or $6,000 for two or more.

8. Overnight camp or summer school tutoring costs do not qualify. You can’t include the cost of care provided by your spouse or your child who is under age 19 at the end of the year. You also cannot count the cost of care given by a person you can claim as your dependent. Special rules apply if you get dependent care benefits from your employer.

9. Keep all your receipts and records. Make sure to note the name, address and Social Security number or employer identification number of the care provider. You must report this information when you claim the credit on your tax return.

10. Remember that this credit is not just a summer tax benefit. You may be able to claim it for care you pay for throughout the year.

For more on this topic, see Publication 503 on IRS.gov. You can also call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to have it mailed to you.


I Want My Daughter To Have My Wedding Ring If I Die. How Do I Make Sure She Gets It!

Every person owns certain property that is special to them. Wedding or engagement rings, furniture, or art collections are examples of sentimental items that people can accumulate  during their lives. These items may be worth a lot due to their collection value. Sometimes items are special for personal reasons.

It is not unusual for people to want certain family members or friends to have these sentimental items or particular things.

People that have these items need to be very careful when it comes to estate planning. Many times people take short cuts. They give verbal instructions to the family as to who will get what when they die. Persons sometimes put names on the bottom of items to indicate who will get the item when that person dies.

It is important to remember that to guarantee that a someone gets that sentimental item, it should be provided for in a will. Under Louisiana law, a will must be in proper form. Verbal instructions and labels on items are not in proper form. Unless there is a legal will, the bequest will be not be enforceable if any of the other heirs contest it.

So it is important to provide for particular bequests of movables in your will or make a clear written donation of the item while you are alive.

If you have any questions regarding wills, please consult an experienced estate planning or succession attorney. Kent S. DeJean


I Moved To Louisiana And Have A Will Executed In Another State. Should I Get A New Will Done In Louisiana?

It is common for people to move to different states. Potential clients come to my office asking if it is necessary to execute a new will in Louisiana. The answer to the question is somewhat complex.

The legal answer is that the law does not require that you have a Louisiana will. The will of another state can be probated and recognized by a Louisiana Court. There is a special procedure under Louisiana law that allows heirs and legatees to have these out of state wills recognized legally.

The problem with out of state wills is that they are drafted according the laws of that other state. Louisiana law can be very different from other states. Terminology can be very different state to state. Also, certain legal concepts may exist in one and may either be very different or not exist in another.

Although Louisiana courts will attempt to comply with the wishes of the decedent in their out of state will, they still may be unable to implement the directions due to the difference in the law. Sometimes, it may be difficult to implement the intent because there is no such legal concept under Louisiana law.

It is advisable that you have your out of state will examined by a Louisiana attorney to determine whether you need to have a Louisiana will drafted and executed to make sure your intentions are recognized and implemented.

If you have any questions concerning wills, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

Kent S. DeJean