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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Executor’s Fees and Duties

An executor's fee is the amount charged by the person who has been appointed as the executor of the probate estate for handling all of the necessary steps in the probate administration. Therefore, if you have been appointed an executor of someone’s estate, you will be entitled to a fee for your services.  This fee is set by Louisiana law at 2 1/2 percent of the gross estate. Sometimes an executor can seek compensation over and above that amount by a showing to the Court that extraordinary amount of work was done and that they Executor is owed more money. Keep in mind that the executor fee is income to the individual. An executor does not have to take a fee if they do not want to. Also, the person writing a will can direct in his/her will that the person serving as executor shall do so without compensation. Of course, the executor is always given the option to serve or not.

General Duties of an Executor

  1. Securing the decedent's home (changing locks, etc.)
  2. Identifying and collecting all bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds
  3. Having all real estate valued; having all tangible personal property valued.
  4. Paying all of the decedent’s debts and final expenses
  5. Making sure all income and estate tax returns are prepared, filed and any taxes paid
  6. Collecting all life insurance proceeds and retirement account assets
  7. Accounting for all actions; and making distributions of the estate to the beneficiaries or heirs.

This list is not all-inclusive and depending upon the particular estate more, or less, steps may be needed.

As you can see, there is a lot of work (and legal liability) involved in being the executor of an estate.  In Louisiana, the Executor has the sole authority to choose the attorney who will handle the estate. This is true even if the testator in their will named an attorney for the estate. The choice rests solely with the executor.

If you have been appointed an executor or have any other probate or estate planning issues, contact us for a consultation today.

Chip LoCoco

504-483-2332


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Why your College Age Child Should Execute a Power of Attorney before Leaving Home


 

When we think of a Power of Attorney, we often think that it only applies to our elderly parents and their appointing someone (an Agent) to be able to act on their behalf, both financially, as well as medically.

However, we often overlook the importance of this document for our children who have attained the age of majority. (In Louisiana, that age is 18.) Imagine, your daughter, who just turned 18 the day before she leaves for college, and is now miles and miles away.  Suddenly, just two nights later, you receive a frantic phone call from her roommate that your child just collapsed that night and was rushed to the hospital.
Read more . . .


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Legal Issues of Caring for Parents with Dementia


Ever increasing life expectancies mean we get to spend more time with our loved ones, but it also means facing greater health problems as we age. One of the most challenging health issues for aging adults is dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease, but rather describes a group of symptoms that are associated with a decline in memory and cognitive function. In severe cases, those suffering from dementia may not remember their family members, or who they are, and may generally not be able to continue to live independently. As a result, many families take on a caregiver role for parents who suffer dementia.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 7, 2022

Five Reasons why a Will might be Declared Invalid

There are several reasons that a will may prove invalid. It is important for testators to be aware of these pitfalls in order to avoid them.

Improper Execution

The State of Louisiana recognizes two types of wills. One is an olgographic will, which must be handwritten by the testator and dated. Those are the requirements to make it valid under Louisiana law. The other will is a Notarial Will, which must be typed, dated, and  signed at the bottom of each page and at the end in front of two witnesses and a notary. There is specific language that must be included in a notarial will that’s if not followed will invalid the will. 

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Anyone over the age of 18 is presumed to understand what a will is. At the end of life, individuals are often not in the best state of mind. If court finds that an individual is suffering from dementia, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is incapable of understanding the document being executed for some other reason, the court may invalidate the will on the grounds that the individual does  not have testamentary capacity.

Replacement by a Later Will

Whenever an individual writes a new will, it invalidates all wills made previously. This means that a will might be believed to be valid for months until a more recently executed document surfaces. The newest will always takes precedence, controlling how assets should be distributed.

Lack of Required Content

Every will is required to contain certain provisions to carry out its purpose. These provisions, ensure that the testator understands the reason for executing the document.  It should be clear that the document is intended to be a will. The document  should demonstrate an individual’s wishes in regard to what should happen to his or her property after death. If the document  lacks any of these provisions, the will may be declared invalid. I have seen this issue come up the most with olographic wills where the testator writes it themselves and uses wishes and desires type language instead of very specific language bequeathing their estate assets.

Undue influence or fraud

A will that was executed under undue influence, coercion or fraud will be invalidated by a court. If a will has been presented to a testator for a signature as if it were any other document, like a power of attorney or a business contract, the court will find that the will was fraudulently obtained and will not honor it. If an individual providing end of life care with exclusive access to the testator threatens to stop care unless a will is modified, that modification is considered to be the result of undue influence and the court will not accept it.                                                                                                                                                      

Chip LoCoco

Attorney at Law

New Orleans, LA

(504) 483-2332 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Preparing to Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney.

A thorough and complete estate plan must take into account a significant amount of information about your assets, your family, your property, and your wishes during and after your life.  When you make your first appointment with an estate planning attorney, ask the attorney or the paralegal if they can provide a written list of important information and documents that you should bring to the meeting.  

Generally speaking, you should gather the following information before your first appointment with your estate planning lawyer.

Family Information
List the names, birth dates, death dates, and ages of all immediate family members, specifically current and former spouses, all children and stepchildren, and all grandchildren.

If you have any young or adult children with special needs, gather all information you have about their lifetime financial needs.

Property Information
For all real property you own or can reasonably expect to acquire, gather the property description, your ownership interest information, the address, market value, any outstanding mortgage balance, and the most recent tax assessment.

For any personal property of value (such as vehicles, jewelry, coins, antiques, stamps, and art), compile a list that includes a description, the physical location of each item, your ownership interest information, the market value, and any liens against the property.

Business Information
If you have an ownership interest in a business, make sure you have documents showing your ownership interest in the business, the business location, the names and contact information of other owners.

Financial Information
Compile a list of all your financial accounts, including: checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, stocks and bonds, and U.S. Treasury notes. 

Gather all retirement savings information, including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, IRAs, life insurance policies, Social Security statements, and pension information.  Make sure you have the account names, account numbers, current balances, outstanding loan balances, and currently named beneficiaries.

If any family members owe you debts, compile that information.

Questions to Think About
The following are some of the first questions your estate planning attorney will ask.  You are not required to have answers ready for all these questions, but because some of them are complex, it is a good idea to think through these issues before your appointment.

  • Who will be beneficiaries of your property?
  • Do you want to bequeath any specific items of property to specific individuals?
  • Is there anyone you do not want to be a beneficiary of any of your property?
  • Do you plan to make any bequests to any nonprofit organizations – university, church, charity, or other organization?
  • Do you know who you want to act as executor of your will?
  • Do you know who you want to act as trustee of any trusts you establish?
  • If you have minor children, who do you want to appoint as Tutor?
  • Do you want to make arrangements for your health and financial well-being in the event you become unable to make decisions for yourself?
  • Do you have specific wishes for your funeral?
  • Are you a registered organ donor?

During your initial consultation, your estate planning attorney will review your family and financial situation, discuss your wishes, answer your questions and suggest strategies to protect your family, wealth and legacy.

Chip LoCoco

New Orleans Attorney
 


Monday, July 26, 2021

Why your College Age Child Should Execute a Power of Attorney?


When we think of a Power of Attorney, we often think that it only applies to our elderly parents and their appointing someone (an Agent) to be able to act on their behalf, both financially, as well as medically.

However, we often overlook the importance of this document for our children who have attained the age of majority. (In Louisiana, that age is 18.) Imagine, your daughter, who just turned 18 the day before she leaves for college, and is now miles and miles away.  Suddenly, just two nights later, you receive a frantic phone call from her roommate that your child just collapsed that night and was rushed to the hospital.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Issues to Consider when Gifting to Grandchildren


Many grandparents who are financially stable love the idea of making gifts to their grandchildren. However, they are usually not aware of the many issues related to what many consider to be a simple gift. If you are considering making a significant gift to a grandchild, you should consult with a qualified attorney to guide you through the legal and tax issues that are involved.

Making a Lifetime Gift or a Bequest:  Before making a gift, you should consider whether you want to make the gift during your lifetime or leave the gift in your will. If you make the gift as a bequest in your will, you will not experience the joy of seeing your grandchild’s appreciation and use of the gift.
Read more . . .


Thursday, January 7, 2021

TOP FIVE ESTATE PLANNING MISTAKES

In spite of the vast amount of information that is currently available in the media and via the internet, many people still underestimate the importance of having an estate plan. Here's a look at the top five estate planning mistakes that need to be avoided.

1. Not Having an Estate Plan

The most common mistake is not having an estate plan, particularly not creating a will - as many as 64 percent of Americans don't have a will. This basic estate planning tool establishes how an individual's assets will be distributed upon death, and who will receive them. A will is especially important for parents with minor children in that it allows a tutor to be named to care for them if both parents were to die unexpectedly. Without a will, the courts will make decisions according to the Louisiana probate laws, which may not agree with a person's wishes.

2. Failing to Update a Will

For those who have a will in place, a common mistake is to tuck it away in a drawer and be done with it. Creating a will is not a "once and done" matter as it needs to updated periodically, however. There are changes that occur during a person's lifetime, such as buying a home, getting married, having children, getting divorced - and remarried, that need to be accurately reflected in an updated will. Depending on the circumstances, a will should be reviewed every year.

3. Not Planning for Disability

While no one likes to think about becoming ill or getting injured, an unexpected long-term disability can have devastating consequences on an individual's financial and personal affairs. It is essential to create a durable power of attorney to designate an individual to manage your finances if you are unable to do so. In addition, a power of attorney for healthcare  - or healthcare proxy, allows you to name a trusted relative or friend to make decisions about the type of care you prefer to receive when you cannot speak for yourself.

4. Providing for Incapable Heirs

People often take for granted that their loved ones are capable of managing an inheritance. There are cases, however, when a beneficiary may not understand financial matters or be irresponsible with money. In these situations, a will can appoint an professional to supervise these assets, or in the alternative a "spendthrift trust" can be put in place.

5. Choosing the Wrong Executor

Many individuals designate a close relative or trusted friend to act as executor, but fail to consider whether he or she has the capacity and integrity to take on this role. By choosing the wrong executor, your will could be contested, leading to unnecessary delays, costs and lingering acrimony among surviving family members.

The Takeaway

In the end, estate planning is really about getting your affairs in order. By having an estate plan in place, you can avoid these common mistakes, protect your assets and provide for your loved ones.

Chip LoCoco

Attorney at Law

(504) 483-2332

 

 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Costs Associated with dying without a will.


When someone dies without a will, it is known as dying intestate.  In such cases, the Louisiana legislature has set forth the law that governs how the person's estate is administered. For people who leave behind large estates, unless they have established trusts or other tax avoidance protections, there may be a tremendous tax liability, including both estate and inheritance tax.

For just about everyone, the cost of having a will prepared by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney is negligible when compared to the cost of dying intestate,  since there are a number of serious consequences involved in dying without a proper will in place.

Legal Consequences

The larger your estate, the more catastrophic the consequences of dying intestate will be. If you die without a will, the freedom to decide how your property will be divided will be taken from you and the state in which you reside will divide your assets.

Not only will you not be able to decide on the distribution of your property, but a stranger will be making personal, familial decisions. This may be divisive among your family members; instead of leaving your loved ones in peace, you may leave them engaged in bitter disputes over a family heirloom or even a simple memento. This can be especially true in situations where there are children from a previous marriage.

Tax Consequences

In addition to the legal and personal problems associated with dying intestate, the tax results can be severe as well. This is particularly true for clients who have not consulted with an estate planning attorney in order to protect themselves through tax avoidance methods. Both the state and federal governments can tax the transfer of property and an inheritance tax may be imposed on the property you have left to your heirs.

The most effective way to avoid all of these negative tax consequences is to create a will with a competent attorney. Your lawyer will help you to choose a proper executor (the person who will administer your estate, distribute your property and pay your debts), and will assist you in finding ways to limit your tax liability. There are several ways your attorney can help you to do this:

  • By gifting some of those you want to inherit before you die
  • By creating one or several trusts
  • By purchasing a life insurance policy
  • By buying investments in your loved one's name

These methods will ensure that your loved ones receive the assets you desire them to have, while simultaneously protecting them from possibly enormous tax burdens after you pass.

For those who have no family, dying without a will can be even more troublesome and costly, since their entire fortunes can be left to the state. If a genealogical search doesn't turn up any blood relatives, all of your assets will be claimed by the government. This means that any individual, group, organization or charity you wished to endow will receive nothing.

It is never easy to think of one's own mortality, but it is even more painful to contemplate leaving a messy, uncomfortable situation behind when you pass. By engaging the services of an excellent estate planning attorney, who will help you fashion a legally binding, precisely designed document,  you can make sure that your loved ones are well taken care of and that your final wishes are respected and implemented.

Chip LoCoco

Attorney at Law

 


Monday, November 9, 2020

How long is the Probate Process?


As an estate attorney, I am often asked how long does the probate procedure take. Simple question right. But the answer is not that simple, as the length of time it takes to distribute assets in an estate can vary widely depending upon the facts and the type of issues that are being handled in each individual matter. 

So, what type of factors come into play which can determine the length of time that an estate will remain open. Some of the factors that will be involved in determining how long it takes to fully administer an estate include:

  1. Whether the estate must be probated with the court.
    Read more . . .


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