Providing Efficiency & Professionalism
Everyone has an estate plan. If you do not have a last will and testament or trust, your estate will be governed by Louisiana intestate law. Your preferred plan is likely different than the state’s plan. For example, did you know that without a will your spouse will only receive your separate property if you have no living descendants, siblings, descendants of siblings, or parents? Therefore, most people benefit from designing their own estate plan.
Estate Planning is the process of planning the tax efficient transfer of your assets once you pass away to your loved ones, charities, or other recipients. This ranges from very simple to very complex.
Unlike many firms who will just shove a questionnaire at you or try to sell you on a one size fits all trust, the attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady and Spedale like to sit down with our clients and take the time to understand their family, situation, and estate planning needs. Then we craft an estate plan that is individually tailored to meet each client’s needs. Some of the more common documents that we draft for client’s estate plans include last wills and testaments and a variety of trusts, including testamentary trusts, irrevocable trusts, asset protection trusts, charitable trusts, special needs trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and living trusts.
We also advise our clients on assets that normally pass outside of your succession, including life insurance, and retirement plans benefits, IRAs and annuities.
We represent many business owners, including small business owners, and assist in business succession planning to sell those businesses or pass them on to the next generation.
One of the best reasons for parents to begin estate planning is for them to dictate who will take care of their minor children in the event of their passing. In Louisiana this process is called tutorship. If a child does need a tutor or tutrix appointed to take care of them the attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady & Spedale can guide the individual applying for tutorship through the legal process.
No estate plan is complete without documents to plan for incapacity, such as general powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, and living wills.
A General Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a trusted person to make decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to make those decisions yourself. These decisions typically include financial matters, such as paying bills and managing bank accounts and investments.
Medical Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint a trusted person to make decisions specifically regarding your medical care and treatment when you are unable to communicate these yourself.
Living Wills allow you to make your end-of-life treatment wishes known, such as providing directions for life sustaining treatment.
As people age it sometimes become harder for them care for themselves independently. As such, we help our clients to plan for long term care, including Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance planning. Decision making may also become more difficult. A power of attorney allowing a trusted person to assist in making decisions is usually sufficient to address this need. Powers of attorney, however, still allow someone to make decisions on their own behalf. When it becomes dangerous for someone to make their own decisions or if they are being taken advantage of, an interdiction may be appropriate. An interdiction is a court proceeding to determine if someone is unable to take care of themselves and/or their property. If they cannot, the interdiction proceeding also determines who should take of care of that person and/or their things. The attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady & Spedale can compassionately guide you and your loved ones through this emotional process.
Special Needs Planning
Individuals with special needs require a specific kind of estate planning. There are many kinds of government assistance and public benefit programs, such as Medicaid and Social Security Supplementary Income, available to individuals with disabilities, but subject to asset and income requirements. The attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady & Spedale draft Special Needs Trusts that manage funds benefiting these individuals while being exempt from these asset and income rules. This allows individuals with special needs to continue to be eligible for government assistance and public benefit programs while maintaining the quality of life that their families have worked so hard to achieve.
We also help children with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 15 and 17 apply for continuing tutorship, which allows their parent or guardian to continue the parent-child relationship into adulthood. The result is much like an interdiction, in which someone is appointed to take care of a person that cannot take care of themselves, but the process is usually much cheaper, faster, and less involved.
Professional Trustees, Executors, and Administrators
A family member or family friend is the most common choice for a trustee. They are usually free and already have a relationship with the beneficiaries of the trust. That said, there are many times that a corporate trustee is a more appropriate choice. This is often the case with a complicated trust or when the family does not have a member or friend that is sophisticated in financial matters. Corporate trustees, however, may be prohibitively expensive, especially in the case of smaller trusts. Most corporate trustees require the trust to have minimum assets of $1 million and charge roughly 1% of assets annually. This is where the attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady & Spedale come in. They will act as professional trustees and have more flexible fee arrangements. There is also no minimum amount of assets required. Not only are we typically less expensive than corporate trustees, but we are generally able to develop a better relationship with the family. The same may be true in the case of succession representatives, which is why the attorneys at Newman, Mathis, Brady & Spedale also serve as executors or administrators for successions.