Estate Planning Attorney Baton Rouge

Lafayette Family Makes It Easy To Leave Home To Child With All Else For Their Children Equally

Helped a nice couple recently. They lived outside of Lafayette, Louisiana. They had four main estate planning goals: (1) Keep the surviving spouse in control of everything; (2) Make sure that any of their four children could handle future financial and medical decisions should the parents become incapable; (3) Make sure that one of their children (who did not own a home while their other three children all did well and had nice homes) inherits their home; and (4) Make sure that all four children work together after the parents die to sell their commercial property and divide up the proceeds as well as divide equally their stock investments and bank accounts that they have.

So, we will be helping them implement their estate legal program so that when one of them dies, the surviving spouse will not have to access the legal system to access their money or property. Probate will not be necessary when either one of them dies. Their revocable living trust will specifically provide that when they die, their home is to be transferred to their child. Their trust further stipulates that their four children will be the Successor Co-Trustees after both parents die so that the children will have immediate access and authority to work together to divide remaining assets equally and fairly - keeping sibling relationships strong, and keeping the government out of the settlement of their estate.

If you live in Louisiana and would like to start a conversation about setting up an estate legal program for you and your family, call Rabalais Estate Planning at 866-491-3884.

Basic Gifting Concepts To Avoid Estate and Gift Tax

Gifting may only be necessary for people who have large estates. With the estate tax exemption for deaths occurring in 2016 at $5.45 million, it may not be appropriate for most Louisianians to make gifts annually.

However, if an individual has or will have an estate exceeding these thresholds, it may make sense to do some gifting if one of the primary objectives is to preserve the estate for the family and minimize or avoid estate tax at death.

Individuals can donate up to $14,000 annually to as many people as they want to without incurring gift and estate tax consequences. If an annual gift exceeds this annual exclusion amount, then typically, no tax is due, but the donor will begin using his or her $5.45 million gift and estate tax exemption.

A person can donate cash, stock, property, an interest in a business, or any other asset having value. People should be careful, however, when they donate appreciated assets because it may result in extra capital gains tax when the asset is later sold or disposed of. When appreciated assets are donated, the done/recipient receives the assets at a "carry-over" basis. But when an individual inherits appreciated assets, the heir/recipient enjoys a "step-up" in basis.

Gifts can be either outright or in trust. Gifts are often made in trust when the donor does not want the donee to have complete control of the gifted asset. But if you donate in trust, you have to make sure the gift in trust meets the requirements of the "present interest annual exclusion," so that the beneficiary of the trust has a "present interest" in the gift.

Gifting to avoid estate tax can be complicated. Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, has attorneys and office locations all around south Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, Lafayette, Mandeville, Lake Charles, and Houma. Our website is Our phone number is 866-491-3884. You can also email me at

Married Couple Doesn't Want Surviving Spouse To Have To Get Children's Permission To Sell The Home

I met with a couple yesterday from Assumption Parish. They had children that were young adults but the children were still forced heirs. Their number one goal was to make legal and financial and estate matters simple for the surviving spouse after the first spouse dies. They do not want to have to get permission from the children if the surviving spouse wants to sell the house, a vehicle, or stock that they own.

They realized that if they put no legal plan in place, then when one spouse died, the surviving spouse would be at the mercy of the children if the surviving spouse wanted to sell the home or other assets they had.

We put a plan in place so that when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse can continue to control everything - the children do not need to be involved at that point - and the surviving spouse will remain in control of everything. Yet, the children's forced heirship rights will be protected in compliance with the Louisiana forced heirship laws.

One of the big reasons married couples put an estate legal plan in place is to make things simple for their surviving spouse. If you want to do the same for your spouse, simple email me at, and tell me a little about your circumstances and what your estate goals are. Then, if appropriate, we'll all get together to chat about what an estate legal program might look like.

Four New Client Matters Yesterday - Your Concerns May Be Similar

From time to time I will provide a summary of the issues that I deal with on a certain day so that you can perhaps comment on them, or at least get a feel for what kind of issues we deal with so that you will know that perhaps you are not alone in the kinds of issues that are important to you and your family. Yesterday, I had four new client meetings. Without revealing any confidentialities, the following are four separate summaries of new client meetings that I had with new estate planning clients.

  1. Friend Needs Estate Planning Legal Work. The first discussion I had was with a friend who owns a successful business. He said he was working with some financial advisors from out of state. His goal was to set up an estate plan for he and his wife so that after they both passed away, their business and other assets would transition the right way to his kids. We discussed business ownership, estate tax, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and updating all of his estate planning legal documents which were prepared by another attorney more than 15 years ago when his kids were very young. We'll be meeting again in the coming days or weeks ahead to finalize an estate planning legal program for him.
  2. Couple Wants Each Child To Receive A Certain Piece of Property. My second meeting was with a couple who wanted to avoid probate and make matters simple for the kids. Even though the husband made most of the big financial decisions for the family, it was the wife who really wanted to have everything simple because she was worried that her husband might die first. The couple also had two pieces of real estate - their home and another piece of property. For specific reasons that they indicated, they wanted one piece to go to one child, and another piece to go to another child, and the rest of their estate to be divided equally among the two children. Assets we addressed included: avoiding probate, estate tax avoidance, avoiding capital gains tax on the sale of property, who to designate to handle matters when they die, income tax aspects of inheriting an IRA and a stock portfolio, the wife's need to rely on their CPA if the husband dies first.
  3. Surviving Spouse Wants To Simplify Complex Estate. We worked with a family that had in the past set up some complex trusts for their children and grandchildren. The surviving spouse now wanted to simplify the surviving spouse's estate, leave it to the children, and then ultimately let the children inherit it and figure out how they can provide for their children. Issues we addressed included: estate and gift tax avoidance; lifetime charitable giving; giving to charity at death; naming an executor of a Will; updating prior estate planning legal documents.
  4. Avoid Probate and Avoid Nursing Home Poverty. My final new client meeting of the day was with a couple that was very clear from the outset of the discussion. The husband had been through a nightmare probate in recent years and he was very clear that he wanted his family to avoid the two probates that they would otherwise have to go through after he and his wife died, and they did not want to lose assets due to their possible future nursing home expenses. Issues we addressed included: Medicaid Planning; IRAs and SEP-IRAs; avoiding probate; how to handle bank accounts and CDs; Irrevocable Trusts for Medicaid Planning; how to title boats and vehicles to avoid probate.

I also took a call from a potential Probate client, but I told them that I was not the attorney for them. The woman's attorney/friend referred her to me. Her mother had died but the daughter did not have a good relationship with her two step-siblings. The mother owned a home but died with a Will or with any estate planning legal documents in place. Since this was likely to be an adversarial matter between the parties that would likely last for years in the court system, and since these matters never work out well, I told them that I would respectfully decline their offer to have me represent them in the potentially hotly contested matter. I wish them well.