Louisiana Trusts and Estates Attorney Helping You Plan
Providing for an orderly disposition of your estate to preserve family wealth
Bruce Spizer works with clients to develop an efficient estate plan that provides peace of mind and takes advantage of tax planning opportunities. He also works with families to handle the administration of the estate of a deceased family member. Mr. Spizer can assist you with all aspects of trusts and estate issues, including:
- Estate Planning
- Gift and Estate Taxes
- Power of Attorney
- Power of Attorney for Health Care
- Living Wills
- Special Needs Trusts
- Probate and administration of an estate
Securing your legacy
You work hard for your family, so knowing that you have planned for their long-term well-being and financial security can bring you comfort. Mr. Spizer will thoroughly analyze your estate and determine the best means to transfer your assets, minimize taxes, provide for your children, care for your pets, support personal philanthropic causes and protect your loved ones.
Draft your last will and testament
Your will provides the opportunity to dispose of your property as you see fit, to establish care for your children, to protect the inheritance of your heirs by placing assets in trust and to express your wishes upon your death. A will is necessary if you want to leave property to those other than descendants and siblings, such as a domestic partner, friend or charity. If you die without a will, state law and the courts determine how your property is distributed and who cares for your children, often leading to results contrary to your desires. Mr. Spizer can draft a will that ensures your intentions will be honored.
Even if you currently have a will, you still need to frequently review your will and your estate plan. You should carefully consider how your desires expressed in your will are affected by changes in your personal life (such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, an accident affecting the health of a spouse or a child, etc.) and changes in tax laws and Louisiana inheritance law. Mr. Spizer can help you revise your will to adapt to these important changes in your life and in your environment.
CAUTION: Louisiana has strict formalities regarding wills. If your will does not comply with these requirements, it shall be rendered null and void. Under these circumstances, the court shall refuse to probate your will and shall dispose of your assets as per Louisiana law rather than by your expressed wishes. Beware doing a will through an internet site. Although the cost is often less, you run the risk of having an invalid will, particularly if you are a Louisiana resident. You also miss out on counseling that helps you determine what is the best way to dispose of your estate.
Who will take care of your minor children upon your death?
If you have minor children, your will enables you to express your desires regarding who will care for them in the event of your death. This is particularly important for single parents and when a common accidents takes the lives of both spouses. If you do not name a tutor for your minor children, the court will ultimately decide this important issue. By leaving property in trust for minor children (and older children who are not ready to handle a large inheritance), you can ensure that funds will be available for your children later in life. You can also provide for someone to care for your pets and leave the pet caretaker money for that purpose.
Living Wills and Power of Attorney
A living will or declaration regarding life-sustaining procedures expresses your desires regarding medical intervention if you become severely incapacitated. By declaring that you do not want doctors and hospitals to engage in so-called heroic efforts to artificially prolong your life after it is determined you have an irreversible critical condition, you not only avoid personal suffering, but also give your family peace of mind in that they know your wishes and do not feel guilt over letting nature take its course.
A Power of Attorney appoints an agent to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so. It may give the agent broad powers to exercise complete control over your assets or may be limited to a particular transaction. You can also execute a Power of Attorney for Health Care to enable your agent to make medical decisions when you are unable to act. Mr. Spizer can assist you with these important documents that should be a part of every estate plan.
Life insurance, disability insurance and long-term health care insurance are an important part of most estate plans. Although Mr. Spizer does not sell these products or endorse particular companies, he can set you up with competent and caring insurance agents and financial planners and assist you in making objective and intelligent decisions about which insurance products best satisfy your and your family’s needs. He can also help you decide how the ownership of your life insurance policies should be structured. If you own the policy, the proceeds are included in your taxable estate. This can be avoided by having the policy owned by an insurance trust. Mr. Spizer can draft an insurance trust to save taxes and ensure that the proceeds are available to provide for your surviving spouse and children. He will also ensure that your insurance beneficiary designations are properly coordinated with the other aspects of your estate plan.
Special Needs Trusts
Special needs trusts, also known as supplemental care trusts, enable a disabled person receiving government assistance to remain eligible for such assistance. If properly drafted, the assets held in the trust do not count as part of a person’s assets for purposes of determining eligibility for government aid programs. These trusts can be set up when a person is about to receive a large monetary settlement or judgment in a personal injury case. They can also be contained in the will of a parent who has a child with a disabling physical or mental condition. Mr. Spizer can draft a trust to help provide for the special needs of a loved one.
Estate Administration and Probate
The death of a relative or friend is often an emotionally trying time. Mr. Spizer can assist you with the administration of the estate to help you get through this difficult period. He will work with the executor to ensure that the wishes of the decedent are carried out and enable the survivors to move forward with their lives.
Living trusts (also known as revocable trusts) are heavily marketed as a way to save probate costs and taxes. While these trusts may be beneficial in states that have high probate costs (such as New York and California), they offer few, if any, advantages in Louisiana, where probate is relatively inexpensive. Contrary to what is often said, living trusts do not save taxes. An estate plan featuring a living trust normally requires that you transfer all of your assets, including your residence and financial accounts, into the trust, which can be quite burdensome. You may also lose your homestead exemption in Louisiana and be subject to a real estate transfer fee if you live in Orleans Parish. A well-drafted will and Power of Attorney are normally all you need. Before paying for a living trust that is more trouble than it is worth, call Mr. Spizer to see if a living trust makes sense for you. If you have already executed a living trust, Mr. Spizer can advise you as to whether you should keep the trust in place or revoke it.
Contact an experienced estate planning lawyer you can trust, Bruce Spizer
For estate planning services in Louisiana, call Bruce Spizer at 504-5242-2880 or contact him online to schedule an appointment.