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Planning for the hours or days following death or incapacity

Louisiana residents may put a comprehensive estate plan into place for a number of reasons. Wills ensure that assets will be distributed in a manner that testators approve of and trusts may be used to reduce tax exposure and avoid the public scrutiny of the probate process. However, peace of mind may be an estate plan's greatest benefit. Estate planning documents provide clear instructions for how assets should be distributed and children cared for should an individual die or become incapacitated, but they may not be of much use in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy.

Computers have made the legal system highly efficient in recent years, but it may still take days or even weeks for courts to rule on important issues such as the guardianship of children. This inevitable delay could be emotionally damaging to children who are already struggling to cope with the loss of their loved ones, and it may undermine the peace of mind that prudent estate planning documents are designed to provide.

When should you update your estate plan?

You finally finished your estate plan. It was a hefty task but you got through it. Unfortunately though, your estate plan is never quite finished. Estate plans should be updated and reviewed periodically.

Your estate plan should accurately reflect your life and wishes and sometimes life events can change elements of your plan. What circumstances should prompt a change or review to your estate plan and how often should you update it?

How entrepreneurs can start a new company

When people in Louisiana think about starting their own businesses, it can be important to address legal concerns to ensure that the enterprise starts out on the right foot. One of the most important steps to starting a business is registering it as a legal entity. By doing this, the business has a separate legal existence from its founder or founders to handle funds, deal with debts, make contracts and otherwise engage in activities. One of the most important advantages of forming an entity like a limited liability company is providing protection against incurring personal financial liabilities in case of business difficulties.

Many entrepreneurs may be confused about how to go through the process of company formation. There can be an array of paperwork formalities and necessary forms in order to have a company approved as an LLC. There are a number of steps that people can take to get ready to form their businesses, and one of the first is choosing the name. It's not enough to have a great idea; would-be business founders need to search state directories to make sure their desired names haven't already been reserved.

Accounting for the human side of estate planning

Louisiana residents have the ability to appoint other people to act on their behalf in certain situations. For instance, an individual or entity may act as a financial or health care proxy while a person is alive. An executor is the person who is responsible for overseeing an estate's affairs after a person dies. Financial account designees may have the power to make decisions on a person's behalf.

These and other appointments may determine how well an estate plan is carried out. If the wrong people are put in place, it could result in family drama or a lack of financial security for future generations. Ideally, those who are named to a given position will have responsibilities that are distinct from others who are helping to oversee a person's affairs.

Study profiles drivers at high risk for distraction

Louisiana drivers who use their phones behind the wheel may want to think about what their motivations for doing so are. The Society for Risk Analysis has recently conducted a situation-based analysis that revealed four profiles for drivers who had a strong intention of driving distracted. The profiles consisted of women, people with little driving experience, individuals with a negative view of road safety and those with little inhibitions.

One conclusion that the society made was that women are more likely to use their phones behind the wheel than men are. Observational studies also show that 18 percent of people in high-income countries as well as 31 percent in middle- and low-income countries use mobile phones while driving.

What a car accident can do to your brain

Car accidents bring about a number of damaging consequences for the drivers and their vehicles. They can range from simple bruises and scrapes to burning vehicles and extensive hospital stays. The severity of your injuries all depends how the collision happened and how fast the other car was going.

Some victims are unfortunate enough to have their heads smash the steering wheel or windows during the incident. This head trauma can result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is often caused by automobile accidents. If you or a loved one was involved in a serious crash, it is imperative that you know any possible signs of TBI to receive treatment for it as soon as possible.

Why it is important to fully fund a trust

When people in Louisiana plan for the future, trusts can be an essential part of an estate plan. The flexibility and control that they provide can help people to create a comprehensive plan for their assets that supports their loved ones over time and avoids the difficulties that can come with probate. However, in order to make a trust operational, it is crucial to not only create the relevant trust documents but also to make sure that the trust is fully funded with all of the property that is to be included.

For example, many people include real estate in their trusts. Transferring real estate requires issuing a new deed to the property, so it is formally transferred from the current owner to the newly created trust, with the owner as trustee. This deed will need to be recorded in order to change the official owner on file. In addition, there can be some other important housekeeping tasks that can accompany the re-titling of real estate in the name of a trust. Homeowners may need to re-file for tax exemptions and will need to inform their homeowners' insurance providers of the change.

Startups and debts

Louisiana residents who start their own businesses may accumulate some debt. They may have some equity that can be applied to the business, but it is not uncommon for individuals to fund a startup with a credit card, multiple investors or a loan. For many startups, there may not be a profit for at least three to five years, which means there will be debt to handle until the business begins to turn a profit. However, there are some steps entrepreneurs can take to manage the business-related debt they may accumulate.

One important step a person should take when tackling debt is to have realistic expectations. There is a wide range of concerns new business owners will have to address, including obtaining new clients, establishing their shop, handling investors and the actual work that comes with starting a business. Being preoccupied with debt will take their focus away from their business and be an impediment to being successful.

Trusts that have become unpopular with the increasing rates

It is important to keep up with the changing times. For instance, even though low interest rates have been the norm for the past decade, the fact that rates have been increasing lately means that estate planners need to adjust their strategies accordingly. A client living in Louisiana might be advised to use a different type of trust today than they would have been a year ago.

There are several types of trusts that are falling out of favor in the coming high interest rate climate. A case in point is the grantor retained annuity trust, GRAT for short, which thrives when interest rates are low but doesn't do well when the rates go up. GRATs pay their grantors an annuity whose size is inversely proportional to the Section 7520 rate, a rate that is calculated from the Federal Midterm rate at the time of creating the trust. Therefore, a lower Section 7520 rate translates to a higher annuity. Additionally, the lower the rates are, the lower the tax liability of the trust's beneficiaries is.

Securing a small business loan

Small business owners in Louisiana may be interested in the advantages provided by government-backed Small Business Administration loans. These loans can be appealing because they are offered in a range of sizes and can be repaid over a lengthy period at relatively low interest rates. The interest rates for alternative business loans can be substantially high, but bank loans backed by the SBA tend to have interest rates of around 7 percent APR. However, many business owners may face difficulties when applying.

In general, SBA loans are not targeted to startup businesses. They are aimed more towards small companies who have been in business for a few years already rather than a substitute for coming into a startup business with capital. There are alternatives for startups that are the types of small, local businesses unlikely to spark the interest of venture capitalists. Local nonprofits or online sources can offer alternative loans based on cash flow or a mission to foster small business growth.

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