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Reasons to consider estate plan updates

For Louisiana residents who want to protect and pass along assets, having an estate plan is vital. However, it's also important to update these documents and arrangements over time. While there is no "standard" time to update estate plans, it's typically advised that plans be reviewed every two or three years to confirm that everything is still valid and appropriate. There are unique circumstances or life events that could also warrant an update to an existing plan.

One of the most compelling reasons to make estate planning adjustments is because of a relocation to another state. This is important because estate-related laws and guidelines vary from state to state. For instance, the minimum share requirement with inheritance for spouses may vary as can the number of required witnesses for a will. It's also advised that individuals review and update related documents such as powers of attorney, advance medical directives and living wills after a move or the establishment of a secondary residence in another state.

Selling a small business

Many small business owners in Louisiana decide to sell their business when they no longer want to operate it themselves, whether it is because they want to move on to a new venture or they have decided to retire. There are several key considerations for business owners who are about to sell their company.

Financial records should be accurate and up to date. This is essential for pricing a business and getting the best deal in a sale. Business owners should expect to present at least three years of prior business records to potential buyers. Working with an accountant is a good idea for owners who want to develop solid accounting practices.

Organizing an estate plan to avoid confusion

Louisiana fans of Stan Lee might know that near the end of his life, the comic book artist had several issues with his estate and the people around him. Among them were his claim that $1.4 million was missing from his account and an accusation that his daughter was befriending men who tried to take advantage of him. He took back the latter accusation even though he had signed a notarized document making the claim.

People do not need to be as wealthy as Stan Lee to need an estate plan. Everyone needs certain documents, such as documents that make arrangements in cases of becoming incapacitated. As people get older, they might be more vulnerable to being influenced by others, or loved ones might believe they were influenced. This is one reason why it can be important to plan effectively and discuss with a professional how incapacity might be ascertained.

A beneficiary to a trust is not without rights

Most trusts created in Louisiana are done so as an estate planning tool to transfer property upon the passing of the settlor, the person who created the trust. Typically, the estate is settled reasonably quickly and the trustee distributes the assets to the beneficiaries without incident. In some circumstances, however, there may be a reason the estate remains open and the trustee is charged with administering the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries throughout a period of time. If problems arise with a trustee, a beneficiary may have grounds to object.

Issues regarding trust administration often come up when beneficiaries are to receive their distributions in the future, typically triggered by their age. Estate planning experts point out that although the trustee has powers to protect the estate and administer it according to the settlor's wishes, the beneficiary has rights too. One fundamental right is to be provided with a copy of the trust.

Louisiana statute of limitations for product liability is 1 year

Louisiana has a very simple one-year statute of limitations for many laws, including product liability.

That may seem a bit short, but experts emphasize that the clock starts ticking from the day you knew or reasonably should have known about the product’s defect and the harm it caused you. If you are, say, exposed to a chemical and discover the exposure and the harm it caused you only years later, the one-year limitation starts when you discovered the problem, not when you were unknowingly exposed to the chemical.

Why choose a silent trust?

Many people in Louisiana consider how they can leave a legacy behind to their children or other loved ones. Because of their flexibility, trusts can be an excellent option that allow people to transfer their wealth while avoiding the exposure and delay of the probate process. Trusts can also provide people with significant tax incentives during their lifetime. However, some people hesitate when creating trust funds for their children. Parents worry that knowing that there is a large sum of money waiting for them in adulthood will discourage their child from pursuing academic or career excellence.

When a trust is created, the trustee normally has the responsibility to notify the beneficiary of the trust as well as provide details about its administration. Silent trusts, on the other hand, provide a mechanism for people to create an irrevocable trust for the benefit of another without notifying the other party. The period of silence could stretch for a named number of years or until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, such as 25. The trust's creator waives the trustee's duty to inform, allowing it to remain secret while the tax and estate planning benefits of the trust go into effect immediately.

Reducing the likelihood of conflict over an estate plan

Some estate plans can lead to family conflict, but there are steps people in Louisiana can take to avoid this. For example, it is important to choose the right executor. Some people may simply choose the closest family member, but it is best to choose someone who is right for the job. The person should be ethical, organized and responsible. One possibility is a professional fiduciary or a corporate trustee.

People should not neglect including sentimental items. In fact, in some cases, this can cause more family conflict than assets with a high monetary value. Parents can talk to their children about what they want and include it in the will. The executor can be directed to sell any items that family members are not able to agree on. People may also want to talk to family members if assets will be distributed unevenly. This could be because one child needs money more than the other or some other reason, but if family members understand it, there is less likelihood of conflict.

How to set up an educational trust

Setting aside money for the college education of a child, grandchild or other loved one in Louisiana or elsewhere is a smart and compassionate thing to do. A trust is one way to accomplish this goal as it provides a lot of flexibility with its terms and conditions. One of these types of trusts is called a pot trust. It is essentially a pot of money from which beneficiaries can take funds when they need them. One issue with this type of trust is that the assets may be distributed unequally, causing division among the beneficiaries.

Alternatively, separate trusts can be set up for each beneficiary to avoid problems of unequal distribution. A potential problem with this solution is that each trust may not have the funds necessary to provide for the beneficiary's education, especially if one of them decides to go to an expensive private school. A private college usually costs several times the amount of a public one.

About limited liability companies

Louisiana residents who are considering which one of the various types of legal business entities to use for their enterprise may want to consider creating a limited liability company, or LLC. An LLC is a business structure that is permitted by state law.

Individuals who own an LLC are referred to as members of the LLC. The majority of states have no limits on ownership; this means that members can be individuals as well as other LLCs, corporations or foreign entities. There is no limit on the number of members an LLC can have. The state statutes of most states also permit the creation of single-member LLCs, or LLCs that have just one member.

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