Many & LoCoco Legal Blog

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tax Basis

A tax basis is essentially the purchase price of a piece of property. Whenever that property is sold, the seller must pay taxes on the difference between the sale price and the original purchase price. This concept applies to all property, including stocks, bonds, vehicles, mechanical equipment, and real estate. If debts are assumed along with the purchase price, the principal amount of the debt will be included in the basis. The basis can be adjusted downwards when a person deducts depreciation costs on his or her income tax returns, and may be increased for capital investments towards improving the property that are not deducted for income tax purposes. Selling a property that has been held for a long time can carry a serious tax burden because of inflation, particularly when real estate prices have increased.

But, when an individual receives property as an inheritance, the tax basis is reset to whatever the fair market value is at the time of death of the decedent. This means that the heir would pay significantly less taxes if that property is sold by the beneficiary than if the original owner were to sell it and devise the money to his beneficiaries. This is a huge thing to consider when a parent wants to donate a home to the children during their lifetime. The children's cost basis would be the same as the parent. However, if the parent holds onto the property in their name and dies, and by will left the home to the children, then the children get that step up in basis. By doing  so, the children can avoid or greatly reduce a potential capital  gains tax.

If you would like more information, please call us today.

 Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Attorney  (504) 483-2332



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Glossary of Estate Planning Terms

So often, attorneys use words and phrases that to us we know exactly what the meaning is; yet we sometimes forget to explain to the client the exact meaning. Here is a glossary of some of the words used in estate planning.

Will - a written document specifying a person’s wishes concerning his or her property distribution upon his or her death.

In order to be enforced by a court of law, a will must be signed in accordance with the provisions set forth in the Louisiana Civil Code.

Testator/Testatrix - the person who signs the will. Testator is male. Testatrix is female.

Decedent - The person who died.

Testate - refers to a person dies with a will. The estate will pass down in accordance with the wishes of the decedent as spelled out in the will.

Intestate - refers to a person who dies without a will. The estate will pass down in accordance with the rules as laid out under Louisiana Law.

Heirs/Legatees- beneficiaries of an estate. Normally heirs refers to individuals who inherit an estate when the decedent dies without a will. Legatees are person who inherit because they are named in a will by the decedent.

Executor/Executrix - the individual given authority by the testator in the will to make decisions to put the testator’s written directions into effect. (Testate)

Once the will is entered into probate, the executor’s signature is equivalent to the testator’s. The executor has a legal duty to the heirs of the estate to act in the best interest of the estate, and may collect a fee for performing such service. The fee is set by law - 2 1/2 percent of the gross estate.

Administrator/Administratrix - the person who assumes the role of the executor when a person dies without a will (intestate).

The Administrator must apply with the local probate office and may be required to provide a bond to be held in escrow as collateral for control over the assets of the estate.

Codicil - an amendment to a will.

In order to be valid, a codicil must comply with all the requirements of Louisiana Law.

Olographic Will- a handwritten will. These wills are still recognized in Louisiana. They must be written, dated and signed by the testator at the end in his own handwriting. They do not need to be witnessed  Just an FYI - in every other State of the Union this wills are called Holographic wills. Somehow, Louisiana lost the "H"

Notarial Will - a typed will, usually drafted by an attorney, which is dated and signed before two witnesses and a Notary Public, adhering to other strict requirements of Louisiana Law. A very formal document.

Bequest - a gift given by the testator to his or her heirs through a will.

Residual Estate - the balance of a testator’s belongings after debts have been paid and specific bequests have been distributed. 

Usufruct - a bequest that gives an heir the right to have exclusive use of a property for the remainder of his or her life, but without the power to transfer such property upon the death of that heir. In other words, the usufructary does not have full ownership - Just the use and enjoyment. Another person or persons, known as the naked owners, have the other part of ownership. The naked owner does not have the right to use the property.

The property will transfer to the naked owner upon the ending of the usufructary - thus making the naked owner the full owner of the property at that time.

Per stirpes - a Latin phrase precisely translated as “by the branch” meaning that, if an heir named in the will dies before the testator, that heir’s share will be divided equally among that beneficiary’s own heirs.

While it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of fundamental estate planning vocabulary, this cannot serve as a substitute for the services of an experienced attorney.

Chip LoCoco

Attorney at Law

Many & LoCoco

(504) 483-2332

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Yes, it is true. Louisiana is the only state in the union that has forced heirship as a law. In estate planning, the concept of forced heirship is the one thing that most clients do not understand. So, I decided to write this article in an attempt to explain it in layman’s terms.


The simple explanation of the law of forced heirship is the requirement that a portion of a person’s estate must be left to his or her children, of a certain age, who under law are known as forced heirs.


Forced heirship is an ancient civilian concept. It was derived from Roman law, ultimately with influences from German, Spanish and French law. Roman law originally held that the father was the head and master of the family, and therefore, he could leave his estate to whomever he desired. Preservation of the property was most important. Eventually, Roman law developed the idea that the family needed to be protected. Thus, laws were developed that insured a child would inherit the property of the father. By the time the Roman Republic was coming to an end, the idea arose that a child could claim a legitimate portion, or legitime. Emperor Justinian provided for the amount of the legitime, as well as grounds for disherinson of a child.  So, over the course of time, Roman law had gone from protecting the property as the priority to instead protecting the family.The concept of forced heirship than was modified over many years with influences by German tribal laws when they conquered Rome, Spanish law and French Law.


Before the State of Louisiana was founded, the citizens here lived under French Law. After the Louisiana Purchase, President Jefferson strongly desired that our laws be assimilated into the English common Law of the rest of the United States. The citizens of Louisiana rejected President Jefferson’s wishes, and continued to follow the French Civil Code. This of course only goes to show that we have always been a little different down here. The first Louisiana Civil Code Digest was written in 1808. It was written completely in French, showing the strong French influence during this state’s infancy. Of course, within those pages was the law of Forced Heirship, which is still the law of Louisiana, but it has undergone changes over the years.


Originally, every child was considered to be a forced heir. That law, over the years, has been changed and amended many times and now the law, as stated in Louisiana Civil Code Article 1493, has defined forced heirs as those descendants of the decedent who at the time of the decedent’s death are twenty three (23) years of age or younger or who of any age, because of a mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estates at the time of the death of the decedent.


The law spells out the portion of your estate that must be left to your forced heir. This is called the legitime or “forced portion”. If you die, leaving one forced heir, the “forced portion” is one-quarter (1/4) of your estate. If you die with two or more children, then the “forced portion” is one-half (1/2) of your estate, which must be split among the forced heirs. Simply put, other than for specific grounds of disinherison recognized by law, if you leave a forced heir, he or she will receive a portion of your estate when you die.


Proper estate planning is imperative when you have a forced heir. Since we know a forced heir has to get a portion of the estate, an estate planning agenda can be developed to perhaps leave the forced portion to your child in trust, so that they cannot access the funds themselves, with said funds being controlled by a Trustee whom you appoint in your will. Additionally, that forced portion could also be subject to a usufruct to your spouse, whereby your spouse has full use of the property during her lifetime. The forced heir merely has what is called the “naked ownership” of his or her forced portion. This is allowed under Louisiana Law. Also, in blended family situations, forced heirship can get quite complicated, when both parents have forced heirs, but the children are from other spouses.

Estate planning is an attempt, with an attorney, to take your own personal situation and tailor make a plan to make your dreams and desires legal. That is the importance of a well-thought out estate plan and the use of a Last Will and Testament. This article is a very brief discussion of forced heirship. Please call us today if you would like more information or if you would like to set up a meeting to begin your own estate planning agenda.





Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Terrible Scenario

I am seeing this terrible situation more and more, and if this blog can help one person correct this situation for their loved one’s, then I feel I have provided a great service. There is one thing about law practice – you do see some horrible situations that easily could have been avoided.

Here is a scenario.

Joe, 40, is divorced from Betty, who treated him terribly and had numerous affairs. Joe has no kids. He has no siblings, and just has a few distant relatives who he hates, but who hate him more. Joe has a home worth a million dollars.

Joe, never thinking he would marry again after he divorced his first horrible wife, meets Mary, 30, and after a very quick romance, they marry. They began their marriage life in Joe’s house, which he owns separately as he had purchased it before marriage.

They live as husband and wife for 10 years, the whole time remaining in Joe’s home. It is a wonderful marriage. All Joe wants to do is care for Mary. No children are born, and Joe still hates his distant relatives.

But then tragedy strikes. Joe dies.  Joe does not have a will. For estate planning purposes, Mary will become the owner of the home and will be able to continue to live there, right ?

Nope. Because Joe died without a will, his estate falls in accordance with Louisiana Law, and not to what his desires would be as laid out in a will. Because his home is his separate property, and because he has no children, the home would go to his distant cousins, who he hates, who immediately can take possession and throw Mary out of the home. Mary would have no interest in the home at all.

This is an all to seen situation and one that can be easily rectified during life. All that needs to be done is to write a will. All Joe had to do was write a will and leave his estate to Mary, including the home. 

If you are someone you know may be in this situation, please tell them to contact an attorney today and get a will drawn up.  It really can make life so much easier for the surviving spouse.

Chip LoCoco

Many & LoCoco


Monday, August 31, 2015

8 Reasons Why Young People Should Write a Will


8 Reasons Young People Should Write a Last Will and Testament

Graduation from college is a good milestone to use as a reminder to create an estate plan.  If you haven’t created a will by the time you marry – or are living with a partner in a committed relationship – then it’s fair to say you are overdue.

Think you don’t need an estate plan because you’re young and just entering the work force?  Not true.  Here are eight excellent reasons for young people to complete a last will and testament.  And they have very little to do with money.

You are entering the military
.  Anyone entering the military, at 18 or any other age, should make sure his or her affairs are in order.  Even for an 18-year-old, that means creating a will and other basic estate planning documents like a health care directive and powers of attorney.

You received an inheritance
.  You may not think of the inheritance as your asset, especially if it is held in trust for you.  But, without an estate plan, the disposition of that money will be a slow and complicated process for your surviving family members.

You own an animal
.  It is common for people to include plans for their pets in their wills.  If the unthinkable were to happen and you died unexpectedly, what would happen to your beloved pet?  Better to plan ahead for your animals in the event of your death.  You can even direct the sale of specific assets, with the proceeds going to your pet’s new guardian for upkeep expenses.

You want to protect your family from red tape.  If you die without a will, your family will be in the position of handling your affairs without your specific directions on what you want to happen with your assets. With a Will, you direct who gets what and who will handle your estate.

You have social media accounts.  Many people spend a great deal of time online, conversing with friends, storing important photos and documents and even managing finances. Without instructions from you, will your family know what to do with your Facebook account, your LinkedIn account, and so forth?

You want to give money or possessions to friends or charities
.  When someone dies without a will, there are laws that dictate who will receive any assets.  These recipients will include immediate family members like parents, siblings, and a spouse.  If you want to give assets to friends or to a charity, you must protect your wishes with a will.

You care about what happens to you if you are in a coma or persistent vegetative state.  We all see the stories on the news – ugly fights within families over the prostrate bodies of critically ill children or siblings or spouses.  When you write your will, write a health care directive (also called a living will) and a financial power of attorney as well.  This is especially important if you have a life partner to whom you are not married so they can make decisions on your behalf.

 Chip LoCoco

Many & LoCoco




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill

There are certain considerations that should be kept in mind for those with chronic illnesses.   Before addressing this issue, there should be some clarification as to the definition of "chronically ill." There are at least two definitions of chronically ill. The first is likely the most common meaning, which is an illness that a person may live with for many years. Diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and asthma are some of the more familiar chronic illnesses. Contrast that with a legal definition of chronic illness which usually means that the person is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living such as eating, toileting, transferring, bathing and dressing, or requires considerable supervision to protect from crisis relating to health and safety due to severe impairment concerning mind, or having a level of disability similar to that determined by the Social Security Administration for disability benefits. Having said all of that, the estate planning such a person may undertake will likely be similar to that of a healthy person, but there will likely be a higher sense of urgency and it will be much more "real" and less "hypothetical."

Most healthy individuals view the estate planning they establish as not having any applicability for years, perhaps even decades. Whereas a chronically ill person more acutely appreciates that the planning he or she does will have real consequences in his or her life and the life of loved ones. Some of the most important planning will center around who the person appoints as his or her health care decision maker and also who is appointed to handle financial affairs. a will and/or revocable living trust will play a central role in the person's planning as well.  Care should also be taken to address possible Medicaid planning benefits.  A consultation with an estate planning and elder law attorney is critical to ensuring all necessary planning steps are contemplated and eventually implemented.


Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

(504) 483-2332 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


This question presents a fairly common issue posed to estate planning attorneys. The solution is also pretty easy to address in your will, trust and other estate planning documents, including any guardianship appointment for your minor children.

First, its important to note that you should not delay establishing an estate plan pending the birth of a new child.  In fact, if your planning is done right you most likely will not need to modify your estate plan after a new child is born.  The problem with waiting is that you cannot know what tomorrow will bring and you could die, or become incapacitated and not having any type of plan is a bad idea. 

In terms of how an estate plan can provide for “after-born” children, there are a few drafting techniques that can address this issue.  For example, in your will, it would refer to your current children typically by name and their date of birth. Then, your will would provide that any reference to the term "your children" would include any children born to you, or adopted by you, after the date you sign your will.

In addition, in the section or article of your will that provides how your estate and assets will be divided, it could simply provide that your estate and assets will be divided into separate and equal shares, one each for "your children." That would mean that whatever children you have at the time of your death would receive a share and thus the will would work as you intend, even if you did not amend it after having a new child. 

On a side note, you should make certain that your plan does not give the children their share of your estate outright while they are still young.  Rather, your will or living trust should provide that the assets and money are held in a trust structure until they are reach a certain age or achieve certain milestones such as college graduation or marriage. Any good estate planning attorney should be able to advise you about this and help walk you through the various options you have available to you.



Many & LoCoco

Monday, January 5, 2015

Choosing the Right Guardian for your Children

First things first. Happy New Year. Just thought we would start off this new year with a discussion of one of the harder things estate planning makes us consider. If you are a parent and you are considering estate planning, one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make is choosing a guardian for your minor children.  It is not easy to think of anyone else, no matter how loving, raising your child. Yet, you can make a tremendous difference in your child’s life by planning ahead. 

The younger your child, the more crucial this choice is, because very young children cannot form or express their own preferences about caregivers. Yet young children are not the only ones who benefit from careful parental attention to guardianship. Children close to 18 years old will be legal adults soon, but, as you well know, may still need assistance of a parental figure after the fact.

By naming and talking about your choice of guardian, you can encourage a lifelong bond with a caring family. The nomination of guardians is a straightforward aspect of any family’s estate plan. It can be as basic or detailed as you want. You can simply name the guardian who would act if both you and your spouse were unable to or you can provide detailed guidance about your children and the sort of experiences and family environment you would like for them. Your state court, then, can give strong weight to your expressed wishes.

There are essentially four steps to this process. First, make a list of anyone you know that might be a candidate for guardian of your children.  It is important to think beyond your sisters and brothers and consider cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, child-care providers and business partners. You might also want to consider long-time friends and those you’ve gotten to know at parenting groups as they may share similar philosophies about child-rearing. Second, make a list of factors that are most important to you. Here are some to consider:

  • Maturity
  • Patience
  • Stamina
  • Age
  • Child-rearing philosophy
  • Presence of children in the home already
  • Interest in and relationship with your children
  • Integrity
  • Stability
  • Ability to meet the physical demands of child care
  • Presence of enough “free” time to raise children
  • Religion or spirituality
  • Marital or family status
  • Potential conflicts of interest with your children
  • Willingness to serve
  • Social and moral habits and values
  • Willingness to adopt your children

You might find that all or none of these factors are important to you or that there are others that make more sense in your particular situation.  The third step is to, match people with priorities. Use the factors you chose in step two to narrow your list of candidates to a handful.

For many families, it is as easy as it looks. For others, however, these three steps are fraught with conflict. One common source of difficulty is disagreement between spouses. But, consensus is important. Explore the disagreements to see what information about values and people is important to one another and use all of your strongest communications skills to understand each other’s position before you try to find a solution that you can both feel good about. Step four is to make it positive. For some parents, getting past this decision quickly is the best way to achieve peace of mind and happiness. For others, choosing a guardian can be the start of an intensive relationship-building process. An attorney who understands where you and your spouse fall on that spectrum can counsel you appropriately. 

Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco

Many & LoCoco

Estate Planning Attorneys

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Selecting a Succession Representative Post Mortem

The death of a loved one is a difficult experience no matter the circumstances.  It can be especially difficult when a person dies without a will.  If a person dies without a will and there are assets that need to be distributed, the estate will be subject to the process of administration instead of probate proceedings.

In this case, the decedent’s heirs can select someone to manage the estate, called an administrator instead of executor.  State law will provide who has priority to be appointed as the administrator. Louisiana Civil Code provides that a spouse will have priority and in the event that there is no spouse, the adult children are next in line to serve. However, those that have priority can decline to serve, and the heirs can sign appropriate affidavits or other pleadings to be filed with the court that nominate someone else as the administrator. Also, in Louisiana, anyone can petition the Court to become an Administrator of an estate, even a creditor. Of course, the Court will usually defer to the line of priority, but not always. Once the judge appoints the nominated person they will then have the authority to act and begin estate administration.

In Louisiana, we also now have the concept of Independent Administration which has greatly reduced the costs of handling successions, as it allows the Independent Administrator to act without Court authority. In an administration of the estate, all of the general or universal heirs have to agree to have an independent administration and appoint a person to act as such.

That is why writing a will is so important. You can name your Executor of the estate and also state that they can act as a Independent Executor and to do so without the necessity of posting bond. That way there is no need to g to other heirs seeking authority, the will establishes that right. You can also name a substitute executor, should the person initially appointed be unable to perform or continue to perform their duties.

In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to change the initially appointed administrator during the administration process. Whether this is advisable depends on many factors. First, the initial administrator will have started the process and will be familiar with what remains to be done. The new administrator will likely be behind in many aspects of the case and may have to review what the prior administrator did. This can cause expenses and delays. Also, it is possible that the attorney representing the initial administrator may not be able to ethically represent the new one, again causing increased expenses and delays. However, if the first administrator is not doing his/her job, the heirs can petition to remove the individual and appoint a new one.

If you are currently involved in a situation where an estate needs to be administered, it is recommended that you speak with an estate planning attorney in your state.

Vincent B. LoCoco

Many & LoCoco

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Testamentary Trusts vs Inter Vivos Trusts

The world of estate planning can be complex. If you have just started your research or are in the process of setting up your estate plan, you’ve likely encountered discussions of wills and trusts. While most people have a very basic understanding of a last will and testament, trusts are often foreign concepts. Two of the most common types of trusts used in estate planning are testamentary trusts and inter vivos trusts.

A testamentary trust refers to a trust that is established after your death from instructions set forth in your will. Because a will only has legal effect upon your death, such a trust has no existence until that time. In other words, at your death your will provides that the trusts be created for your loved ones whether that be a spouse, a child, a grandchild or someone else.

An inter vivos trust, also known as a revocable living trust, is created by you while you are living. It also may provide for ongoing trusts for your loved ones upon your death. One selling point of a revocable trust, versus simply using a will, is that the revocable trust plan may allow your estate to avoid a court-administered probate process upon your death. However, to take advantage this benefit you must "fund" your revocable trust with your assets while you are still living. To do so you would need to retitle most assets such as real estate, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, CDs, and other assets into the name of the trust. Most of the time, this is not done fully, and the result is still the need for the probate process, which defeats the purpose of doing the living trust.

Since one size doesn’t fit all in estate planning, you should contact a qualified estate planning attorney who can assess your goals and family situation, and work with you to devise a personalized strategy that helps to protect your loved ones, wealth and legacy.

Many and LoCoco

Attorneys at Law

(504) 483-2332

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Long Does the Estate Process Take before I Receive my Inheritance

If you’ve been named a beneficiary in a loved one’s estate plan, you’ve likely wondered how long it will take to receive your share of the inheritance after his or her passing.  Unfortunately, there’s no hard or and fast rule that allows an estate planning attorney to answer this question. The length of time it takes to distribute assets in an estate can vary widely depending upon the particular situation.

Some of the factors that will be involved in determining how long it takes to fully administer an estate include whether the estate must be probated with the court, whether assets are difficult to value, whether the decedent had an ownership interest in real estate located in a state other than the state they resided in, whether your state has a state estate (or inheritance) tax, whether the estate must file a federal estate tax return, whether there are a number of creditors that must be dealt with, and of course, whether there are any disputes about the will or trust and if there may be disagreements among the beneficiaries about how things are being handled by the executor or trustee.

Before the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, the executor and trustee must also make certain to identify any creditors because they have an obligation to pay any legally enforceable debts of the decedent with those assets. If there must be a court filed probate action there may be certain waiting periods, or creditor periods, prescribed by state law that may delay things as well and which are out of the control of the executor of the estate.

In some cases, the executor or trustee may make a partial distribution to the beneficiaries during the pending administration but still hold back sufficient assets to cover any income or estate taxes and other administrative fees. That way the beneficiaries can get some benefit but the executor is assured there are assets still in his or her control to pay those final taxes and expenses. Then, once those are fully paid, a final distribution can be made. It is not unusual for the entire process to take 9 months to 18 months (sometime more) to fully complete.

If you’ve been named a beneficiary and are dealing with a trustee or executor who is not properly handling the estate and you have yet to receive your inheritance, you should contact a qualified estate planning attorney for knowledgeable legal counsel.


Attorneys at Law

(504) 483-2332

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