Estate Planning Lawyer Lafayette, LA
At Theus Law Offices, an estate planning lawyer Lafayette, LA families trust for insight, we help families in and around Acadiana properly plan and protect their assets and legacies. We understand the importance of family, and there is no greater peace of mind than having a proper estate plan in place that will protect everything you own and everyone you love. On this page you will find suggestions for developing an estate plan with help from an estate planning lawyer:
People Who Can Benefit From an Estate Plan
Depending on your situation, you may require legal counseling from a reputable estate planning lawyer. We can guide you as you write your estate plan documents or make changes as needed. If you fit into one or more of these categories, we suggest contacting our law office for assistance right away:
- You own a business
- You have divorced from your spouse and have entered another marriage
- A family member of yours is disabled
- You own real estate
- You have minor children
- You want to leave something behind for a charity or cause you care about
- You have significant assets in IRA or 401k
- You recently got divorced
- You have a taxable estate (federal and/or state)
We know that planning for a future when you are no longer here isn’t an easy task to take on. It means having to figure out what will be done with everything you own, assets you have, bank accounts, sentimental items, and so much more. Some people may choose to generate an estate plan through using an online program. However, these programs are not a one-size-fits-all and there may be unique factors that need to be considered. Don’t hesitate to call us for more information about how we can be of service to you.
We are Knowledgable On State Laws
State laws are specific about what is to be included in an estate plan document, such as a medical directive, financial power of attorney, trust, or will. There are certain people who qualify as your personal representative, trustee, or estate plan witness. There are formalities that must be followed based on state law to ensure that your plans are legally-binding and clear. The last thing you want to happen is for something to be incorrect with your estate plan, leaving grieving family members to deal with an expensive court system as the issue is sorted out. We can ensure that your documents are written in such a way that it leaves minimal gray area for confusion or misinterpretation.
You Have Someone to Watch Out For Your Best Interests
An estate plan lawyer is someone who can be a neutral and unbiased party that provides information that is useful to your personal circumstances. We understand that safeguarding your assets and independence during your lifetime is very important to you, and we know how to protect your family after your passing. We can not only assist in getting your plan written, but see to it that it is valid and recognized based on state laws. We have no ulterior motive when it comes to helping you establish a plan for the future. Here is a list of documents that we can offer support on as you write them:
- Last Will and Testament
- Healthcare Directives
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Beneficiary Designations
- Living Trust
Identify Concerns and Develop Goals for Your Estate Plan
No two people are alike, whether married, single, rich, poor, or somewhere in between. Goals and concerns will vary, which will drive approaches for creating an estate plan in Louisiana. The first step in the estate planning journey is to identify your concerns. Start with the end. An experienced lawyer from Theus Law Offices can help with a guided conversation. Your estate plan should be custom-tailored to address your specific goals and concerns or it’s not a plan.
For families with young children, you may wish to ensure that your minor children are properly cared for in the event that you pass away before they are adults, or that young adult children reach a point of financial maturity before having direct access to assets. Although estate planning is very much about planning for yourself during your LIFE, thinking beyond yourself, you may wish to ensure your surviving family members will be financially protected in the event of your passing.
An estate planning lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana families turn to from Theus Law Offices can offer seasoned advice about achieving the following goals:
- To stay in control of your assets and affairs during life and ensure you don’t outlive your money
- To control what happens to your legacy in the event of your passing
- To nominate a tutor (also referred to as a “guardian”) for minor children in the event you pass away before they reach the age of majority (Age 18 in Louisiana)
- To ensure your proper care for your pets in the event of your passing
- To avoid a business failure by developing a business succession plan to key persons that you choose or family members
- To protect assets and wealth from unforeseeable claims, including lawsuits and healthcare expenses
- To provide asset protection for a surviving spouse
- To impose restrictions in the event of the remarriage of a surviving spouse to ensure your descendants receive the benefit of your legacy
- To provide detailed instructions about financial matters and medical care in the event of your incapacity
- To determine who is in control, who gets to benefit, and when with respect to the distribution of assets after death
- To minimize or avoid income and estate taxes
- To provide for and protect the governmental benefits of a loved one with special needs
- To protect beneficiaries who are unable to prudently manage their own affairs
- To protect your children and your legacy from future failed marriages, debts, bankruptcy, or other creditors
Prepare a Detailed List of Assets and Debts
A proper estate plan should account for all assets and debts, including assets that are governed by beneficiary designation like life insurance or retirement plans. A full review is one of the first steps to developing a complete estate plan in Louisiana. Our team from Theus Law Offices can provide you with helpful forms to assist with gathering financial information. You can also download forms HERE. Assets that should be addressed include:
- Primary residence
- Rental or vacation properties
- Other real estate or immovable property, including mineral interests
- Non-probate assets, such as life insurance, annuities, or retirement plans
- Demand deposit accounts, including checking, savings, and CDs
- Investment accounts
- Stocks or other equities held in online trading accounts, such as E-trade or Computershare
- Personal property and household effects, such as furniture, jewelry, and art
- Closely-held business interest
- Intangible assets like patents or other intellectual property
- Inherited assets, including expected inheritances
What to Keep in Mind While Estate Planning
When you are estate planning as a married couple, you may think that you can sit down, make a list of things you both have, and put it in your estate plan. However, estate planning as a married couple can be more complicated than that and you may not realize just how many assets you each have and where you want them to go. In fact, creating an estate plan with someone else can be incredibly difficult because this may be the time when your opinions and the opinions of your spouse are in conflict. This is one of the reasons it can be so helpful to have a lawyer here when you are planning your estate. Want to see what we can do for you and your spouse during this time? Give our office a ring.
How can we help you with family estate planning?
There is no doubt that estate planning gets far more complicated when you are planning with your family.
- Helping keep the peace. As you and your spouse are deciding which property is yours, theirs, and shared and who it should go to, arguments may crop up. Especially if you have children from other marriages, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your estate plan. We have worked with many couples who have children from earlier marriages and can help you both come to a solution that is right for you.
- Understanding the state law. While you and your spouse likely want to mold your estate plan around your needs and the needs of your family, it is first important to make sure you are following the state law. This can be difficult when you do not have a legal background. Different states have different rules regarding shared property. Louisiana, for example, is a community property estate. That usually means that the property you and your spouse own is shared equally.
- Determining beneficiaries. For most people, determining who the beneficiaries are is the most important part of estate planning. However, you and your spouse may have very different ideas regarding who should get what. We are here to help guide conversation between you and your spouse to help you come to a decision you can both agree on regarding who should get certain assets after you pass. This can be one of the hardest decisions you and your partner have to make while estate planning.
When should someone start planning their estate?
We get this question from clients all the time and the answer is always the same: start planning now! You may be in a position where you believe you are too young or have not accumulated enough wealth; however, when you sit down with your Lafayette, Louisiana estate planning lawyer you may suddenly realize you have more to offer your loved ones than you thought!
What kinds of things should I expect to include in my estate plan?
Many estate plans will have very similar aspects. Depending on your age, whether you are married, have children, or own property, you may have a longer, more detailed estate plan. Often estate plans include:
- Guardianship. If you have minor children, an estate plan should include who you wish to name as your children’s guardians.
- A will. Creating a will allows you to name who you want to get your assets when you are no longer living.
- A trust. If you would prefer to continue managing your assets while you are still alive, creating a trust allows you to do this while making a smooth transition and avoiding the probate process.
- A durable power of attorney. When you appoint someone as your durable power of attorney, you are giving them the right to make decisions (health, financial, legal) if you are alive but mentally not able to make decisions.
People pass away without estate plans all the time. What happens then?
It’s true that many people do not create estate plans before they pass away. However, when this happens, that means you are allowing the state to make decisions on your behalf regarding where your assets will go. This can mean a lengthy and expensive probate process and potentially family feuds.
Solutions Start Here; Call Theus Law Firm for Estate Planning Help
Whatever you need, whether a simple will or a complex trust-based estate plan, our team from Theus Law Offices will provide knowledgeable, experienced representation. Protecting everything you own and everyone you love starts with proper estate planning. If you have questions about wills, trusts, or any other estate planning topics, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation, or use the link below to schedule a Free 15-Minute Call with a LA estate planning lawyer in Lafayette today.