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What you THINK you know about estate planning, but really DON'T, can hurt you!
What is Estate Planning and Why Do I Need It?
Simply put, estate planning is the process of you (or you and your spouse) making the necessary decisions required to put your affairs in order, and memorialize your wishes before you pass away or become incapacitated. In the event of a sudden accident or illness, you can rest assured that your spouse, children, favorite charity, or other persons of your own choosing, will receive the assets you would like them to receive. Estate planning documents designed to communicate your wishes may include the following:
Estate planning is a process, and the circumstances of every individual are unique. There is no such thing as a magic elixir or cookie-cutter estate plan, especially one that properly integrates asset protection planning features. Once a plan is established, the completed plan should be reviewed and updated as circumstances change.
Our team of skilled estate planning lawyers includes the only specialist in Estate Planning and Administration certified by the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization who is also licensed in the following three states: Louisiana, Washington, and Alaska - a domestic asset protection trust jurisdiction! Our experienced estate lawyers utilize the most advanced techniques for both large and small estates to create a comprehensive plan tailored specifically for the unique needs and circumstances of each client.
As tax law specialists, our experienced estate planning attorneys also seek to minimize or defer administrative and other costs for you and your loved ones, including Federal estate taxes, Louisiana inheritance taxes, or Louisiana estate taxes.
Remember - Estate planning isn't just about what happens at death. It's about planning for LIFE, and when you need care, so that you:
Stay in control
Don't outlive your money
Don't become a burden on anyone
What is Asset Protection and Why Do I Need It?
In Louisiana, virtually anything can be seized by creditors, including your home. Theus Law Offices utilizes proven strategies to help safeguard your hard-earned assets and legacies from unforeseeable liabilities, including nursing home and long-term care costs.
In a nutshell, asset protection is the process of organizing your affairs in advance to protect your assets from claims or liabilities to which they might otherwise be subject, including lawsuits and nursing home costs.
It is important to understand that not all estate plans or trusts provide asset protection. In fact, most do not. However, asset protection planning can and should be integrated with any estate or business plan. Techniques can be as simple as a single (specially designed) trust, and may include the use of limited liability companies with enhanced features to provide additional barriers.
If you are concerned that your assets are unnecessarily at risk, the time to implement strategies to safeguard your assets is well in advance of any threatened litigation. Put yourself, your family and business partners at ease with a secure, guided asset protection plan with the help of our attorneys.
Asset protection requires specialized skill and knowledge. Attorney J. Graves Theus, Jr. has developed a four-point plan that incorporates proven strategies from multiple jurisdictions, including Alaska, to protect hard-earned assets now and for future generations. Contact us to learn more about the Sentry Legacy PlanTM!
Louisiana law affords significant protection for claims against a beneficiary’s interest in a properly-designed Louisiana trust. Not every Trust provides asset protection and you cannot protect your assets with a Will, so if asset protection is a goal, then you need the RIGHT Trust.
Utilizing a Trust Protector can substantially enhance the asset protection features of a trust. Theus Law Offices provides Trust Protector Services for many of our clients through an affiliated Alaska limited liability company.
Proper estate planning should target your unique goals or concerns, whether getting your your affairs in order, probate avoidance, privacy, asset protection for you or loved ones, supplemental needs to protect governmental benefits, or retirement plan asset protection.
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Theus Law Offices has proven experience in the following areas of estate planning:
Succession and Probate Administration
We recognize the probate process is a difficult and sensitive time in the lives of our clients. We are committed to ensuring that our clients feel informed and connected through every stage of the process. Our attorneys will guide you through the process with an eye toward post-mortem planning opportunities, as well as necessary changes to existing estate and business plans.
During the course of a succession proceeding or trust administration, it is fairly common to experience tension and dissent., even in the best of families. Sometimes these difficulties are relatively minor. However, many disputes require legal intervention.
As certified specialists in estate planning and administration, we know the issues when it comes to resolving tough disputes. Whether contesting or defending the validity of a will or donation, challenging the acts of a fiduciary, disputing the characterization of an asset, or any number of other possible points of contention, Theus Law Offices is well prepared to prosecute or defend your cause of action.
Our team of attorneys has the skill and tenacity to take on the toughest cases – and we get results. Regardless of the circumstances, we balance the task of resolving estate and inheritance issues with the importance of preserving and honoring the memory of the deceased.
Business Succession Planning
You have worked hard to build your business and deserve to leave it in good hands. Our attorneys provide planning services that integrate your business interests with your family estate planning, tax and retirement objectives.
We work closely with clients to avoid ownership and control disputes. We design and implement plans that will preserve, protect and transfer assets before an unexpected triggering event – such as retirement, death or change of circumstances – that demands an immediate response to complex business, tax, health care and legal issues.
A business succession plan outlines how changes in ownership and management will be executed. Once a plan is established, the completed plan should be reviewed and updated as circumstances change.
At Theus Law Offices, our goal is to give each client the comfort of knowing their business is prepared to adapt to change, ensuring continuation and maximum return to the owners.
Medicaid and Elder Law Planning
No one wants to think about a time when they will be able to care for themselves, but failing to do so can decimate a lifetime of savings.
It is important to plan far in advance for Medicaid eligibility and to consider all available resources, such as long-term care insurance. Proper advanced planning can avoid the need to spend down assets prior to applying for Medicaid. Crisis planning is required when time does not permit proper advanced planning.
A primary goal of long-term care planning is to help ensure you receive proper care while preserving your legacies for future generations. Put yourself and your family at ease with a secure, guided long-term care plan with the help of our attorneys.
No estate planning at all results in an "intestate estate." By choosing not to have a will or trust you are allowing your estate to pass according to the laws of the State of Louisiana, to your heirs at law. You may not agree with their plan, but unfortunately roughly 70 percent of Americans currently use it. You give up the security and peace of mind of knowing exactly who will receive the benefit of all your hard work, and sentimental valuables. You may also forfeit the benefit of reducing any taxes due at your death.
Q. What are Beneficiary Designations?
You may avoid probate on the transfer of some assets at your death through the use of beneficiary designations. Laws regarding what assets may be transferred without probate (non-probate transfer laws) vary from state to state. Some common examples include life insurance death benefits and bank accounts.
Q. When should I set up my estate plan?
Whether you are young or elderly, just getting your family started, or have an empty nest, it is never too soon or too late to create a comprehensive estate plan, while you are still able to do so.