Many consumers are executing Revocable Living Trusts. They are being sold on this product on the promise to avoid a succession and probate.

Revocable Living Trusts do help the person avoid succession and probate. But, that’s all it does and this benefit may not be as valuable as one might initially think.

Some Revocable Living Trusts are expensive and may costs as much as a small uncontested non problematic succession. So the financial benefit that you get, may not be as great as you think.

What is important to remember is what Revocable Living Trusts do not do! Revocable Living Trusts are revocable. This means you can remove any property you put into that trust at any time.

Since you can remove the property from the trust, there is no asset protection. If you owe money, your creditors will be able to seize whatever assets you placed into the trust.

Also, you obtain no tax advantage to creating a Revocable Living Trust. You will continue to pay your taxes the same way you always have paid them.

Finally, placing property in a Revocable Living Trust does not shelter it from government entities for you to pay for your long term nursing home care. Medicaid and the Veteran’s Administration will count all property placed into a Revocable Living Trust just like you own it. There is a five (5) year look back period for Medicaid and there may also soon be a look back period with the Veteran’s Administration. You may be missing out on an opportunity to shelter your assets while you are healthy by placing your assets into a Revocable Living Trust.

To obtain additional information on legal and innovative estate planning strategies, you should always consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Video Taping The Execution Of A Will

Under Louisiana law, there is no legal requirement that the execution of a will be video taped. Further, there is no such thing as a video will. Louisiana law has specific form requirements for wills. Video taped wills is not one of those approved forms.

However, video taping of wills may be very useful in certain limited situations. Let’s say that it is anticipated that the capacity of the person executing the will may be contested in the subsequent succession. This would be a situation where it would be useful to video tape the execution of the will.

Video taping would show that the person executing the will understood what it meant, consented to the will and was under no duress. It would also be helpful to interview the person executing the will by asking open ended questions about why the bequests were made as well as to show capacity.

So video taping is not a will in and of itself. However, it can provide valuable evidence to show that the person executing the will possessed legal capacity to sign it.

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

Don’t Delay In Getting A Power of Attorney!

It is very common for people to put off executing powers of attorney. In fact, recent studies show that 80% of adults do not have an executed power of attorney. Most people think that powers of attorneys are for people that are sick or old.

In the real world, none of us are guaranteed capacity even today. An accident or health issue can take our mental or physical capacity away from us quickly without prior warning. We would be unable to take care of our own person and property. No one can predict when a person will lose capacity.

The execution of a valid durable powers of attorney is relatively quick, easy and fast.When a person fails to plan in advance, that person is “playing with fire”. Many learn the lesson the hard way. They wait until it is too late. The family may be unable to get the power of attorney executed because the person has lost capacity. The family may have the person sign a power of attorney where capacity is an issue. This can lead to family disputes and/or challenges to the document.

If you have any questions concerning powers of attorney, living wills and advanced medical directives, you should contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Keep An Updated Inventory With Your Will

A will is an important document which every person should consider having. It is also recommended that you keep an updated detailed inventory of your debts and assets with your will. It is not a good idea to put an inventory in a will since debts and assets are constantly changing. But, you should still keep a separate inventory document with your executed will.

You probably know your estate well. However, your children, heirs and legatees probably do not. Without an inventory, it will take considerably more time, money and effort to investigate your estate. Further, your assets may be lost and never recovered because your family or friends didn’t know they existed.

You inventory should include the following:

1. The names of company, addresses, telephone number and contact person or agent for all bank and financial institutions;

2. The names of company, addresses, telephone number and contact person or agent for insurance including auto, life, medical, and disability.

3. List all real estate that you own and where it is located.

4. List all persons or entities that you owe money.

5. List hiding places of any hidden property.

6. Identify property that may have a sentimental value to you or may be a collectable that has a significant value.

7. List all safety deposit boxes.

You should also update your list once a year. You will be surprised how much your estate changes year to year.

If you have any questions concerning successions, you should consult an experienced estate planning 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

Beware! Without A Will Separate Property Is Not Inherited By Your Spouse!

Under Louisiana law, separate property is any property that:

1. You owned before you got married;
2. You inherited; or
3. Was given to you individually; or
4. Was acknowledged to be your own property by your spouse.

Most are surprised to learn that their spouse will not inherit your separate property if you die without a will. It is your children and your family that will inherit any separate property you have when you die pursuant to Louisiana law.

If you want your spouse to inherit your separate property, you must provide for it in a valid will.

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

Do I Need An Attorney To Prepare My Will?

The legal answer is no. There is no law that requires that you hire an attorney to draft your will.

However, there are several bad things that can happen if you don’t.

Louisiana law requires that wills be in certain forms. If the will you write is not in proper form, the court will not recognize it.

The language you use in your self prepared will may be imprecise. The language you use may be confusing or open to different interpretations. This may make your self prepared will subject to being litigated or contested by your heirs and/or legatees.

What you are providing for in your will may not be allowed by state law or does not exist under state law. The court may be unable to comply with what you want to do in your will because it is prohibited .

Your will may not provide for contingencies (“What If’s”?). Without legal representation, you may not be aware of things that can happen that will change who you want to get your estate.

If you have any questions about wills, contact an experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Reasons To Update Your Will

It is important to remember that persons shouldn’t just execute their wills, store them and not worry about them. Wills should always be updated. Otherwise, there can be an absurd result regarding your estate when you die if your will hasn’t been updated.

The following are some examples of significant events in your life for which you should consult an attorney to update your will:

1. You got married;
2. Someone named in your will has died;
3. You had a child;
3. Your spouse or legatees have become disabled; or
4. You got divorced.

Even if no significant events in your life have occurred, it is still good practice to meet with your attorney every five (5) years to update your will. The reason you should regularly consult with your attorney regarding updating your will, is that your assets can significantly change even in a brief period of time. Also, your relationships can change significantly over time. If your assets or relationships have changed, you may want to update your will to change who gets what.

If you have any questions regarding updating your will, you should consult an experienced estate attorney. Kent S. DeJean

Don’t Wait for a Long Trip to Prepare Your Will

Many clients that come to my office to have our office prepare their wills, are often times motivated by the fact they are getting ready to take an overseas flight. They are afraid that something bad will happen to them on the long flight.

What is your chance of dying on a commercial air flight? The chance of dying in a commercial air flight is only 1 in 11 million.

What is your chances of dying in a car accident this year? Your odds of dying in a car accident this year is approximately 1 in 8,000.

So what is the moral of the story? The moral of the story is that you have a lot more to be worried about driving home to day than you do of taking that commercial air flight. You should be doing estate planning today rather than waiting till you take a long trip.

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

Beware of Writing Your Own Will!

Louisiana law does recognize handwritten wills (olographic wills) as long as they meet the form requirements. Olographic wills must be hand written entirely in the handwriting of the person who made the will. It must be signed by him at the bottom of the will and dated.

This is a cheap and easy option in writing a will. However, there are problems with hand written wills. These potential problems include:

1. Handwritten wills can be more easily contested. Whether this is your handwriting or not can be challenged. Different experts may have different opinions as to whether it is your handwriting.

2. What you want to happen in your will may be prohibited or not provided for under Louisiana law.

3. Your language used may be imprecise. This can lead to different interpretations as to what you meant in your will and can lead to costly litigation.

Litigation can be costly. If you want to insure that your intentions are followed after you die, you should take the time, money and effort do it right. You should contact a experienced estate planning attorney. Kent S. DeJean