Providing Louisianians With Peace of Mind in Knowing Their Legacy Is Protected Through Our Compassion, Expertise and Dedication to Excellence
- Estate Planning
- Successions and Probate
- Veterans Benefits
- Medicaid Planning
- Special Needs Planning
People often think of estate planning as something reserved for the very rich but that’s not true. We all have an estate plan whether we know it or not because the state of Louisiana has decided who your property will pass to if you don’t create your own plan. Proper estate planning involves the orderly distribution of financial assets at your death and the minimization of taxes, legal fees and administrative expenses connected therewith, but it is much more than that. Proper estate planning also strives to maintain your ability to control your financial assets while you are well and allows for those you choose to manage your assets if you become incapacitated.
Additionally, the goal of estate planning should be to preserve the relationships between those you love—relationships that are often strained upon your disability or death.
How We Are Different?
At Legacy Estate & Elder Law, estate planning is the core of our practice. Unlike other firms, we know estate planning is much more than collecting data and creating form documents. We know that through discovering your values and life lessons, helping you fulfill your final wishes, counseling you about the emotional value of personal possessions and ensuring that your financial assets and real estate are passed to your loved ones when and how you want them to be.
So, regardless of which legal documents you need to ensure that you, your family and your loved ones are protected in the event of your disability or death, you can be assured we will use our in-depth knowledge to complete a plan that will help you leave more than just an inheritance — we can help you truly leave a lasting legacy.
Louisiana’s inheritance laws are much different from other states. So, if you are in the greater Baton Rouge area (including East Baton Rouge, Ascension, St. James, Iberville, Assumption, Livingston, Pointe Coupee or West Baton Rouge Parishes) or in the Greater New Orleans area (including St. Charles, Orleans or Jefferson Parishes) or elsewhere in Louisiana, you need a Louisiana law firm that is well versed in estate planning to assist you with your needs.
Successions and Probate
Dealing with the legal issues that accompany death is often overwhelming and confusing for those left behind. This is why our team is beside you throughout the process to answer your questions and assist you in completing the necessary legal matters.
When a person dies in Louisiana—regardless of whether that person has a will, trust or dies intestate—there is usually legal work that must be completed to pass his or her legacy on to those entitled to it. There may be disputes amongst those involved regarding how the deceased’s property is to be distributed. With our extensive knowledge in the areas of probate, successions, and trust administration, we can help you tackle these difficult issues.
Therefore, succession and probate work is a primary focus of our practice.
During your lifetime, if you want to transfer any of your property, you generally do so by signing a document making the transfer. Of course, this is no longer possible after death. Therefore, it is usually necessary to retain an attorney to file papers with the court to transfer property to the beneficiaries. This procedure is called a succession in Louisiana. You may also hear it referred to as probate. A succession is required whether there is a will or not.
Managing The Details
Many Louisiana attorneys prepare successions and do probate work, but the laws involving successions are complex and there are deadlines that, if missed, may cause your heirs to pay additional taxes. An attorney not expertly familiar with Louisiana succession law may also take more time to complete the work causing more stress to the family already grieving from the loss of a loved one. In addition, many attorneys charge a percentage of the estate to prepare a succession even though the work required to prepare the succession of a person who had $200,000 worth of assets is the same as the work required to prepare the succession of a person who had $1 million in assets.
Helping You Through It
At the Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, the goal of the members of our succession and probate team is to ensure we prepare the necessary Louisiana succession documents in a timely manner and at a reasonable fee. We also understand that our clients who come to see us to prepare their loved one’s successions are often still grieving and we strive to treat those clients with extra care.
VA Benefits Planning
Who Is Eligible for VA Benefits?
A common misconception is that only those veterans who were disabled while serving on active duty are entitled to veterans’ benefits. This type of benefit (known as “compensation”) is available only to those whose disability is connected to the veteran’s service, but it is not the only type of benefit offered. Another type of benefit called the veterans “pension” may be available to help meet the costs of long-term care for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses, even if their current medical needs are not associated with their service. This pension has several eligibility requirements.
Requirements for VA Benefits
• The claimant must be a veteran, or a surviving spouse of a veteran, who served on active duty for a period of at least 90 consecutive days during a period of war. Service in combat is not required, but the veteran must have served during wartime and must have been honorably discharged.
• The claimant must be over 65 or be permanently and totally disabled.
• The claimant must satisfy both an income and assets test. A veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran who meets the eligibility requirements for pension may also be entitled to an extra monthly amount if they are “housebound” or in need of the regular aid and attendance of someone else to assist with their activities of daily living.
Here at the Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, we assist veterans and their surviving spouses in determining whether these benefits are available and helping them through the process of applying, if they are eligible. Linda S. Melancon, an attorney and the owner of the Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, is accredited by the Veterans Administration to give advice regarding VA benefits, which may include advice about compensation, pension and/or aid and attendance benefits.
Any comprehensive long-term care plan should consider the availability of VA benefits, as well as Medicaid or other sources of funding to help pay for that care. At the Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, we are educated on these benefits so we can make sure we provide you with the best advice to help you navigate the maze of long-term care financing.
VA Benefits & Long-term Care Consultation
If you or a loved one needs home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care (or if you want to plan in case you need this care in the future), and live in Baton Rouge or any other Louisiana parishes, please contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss what VA benefits and other sources of funding may be available for you or your spouse.
Medicaid & VA Planning
The average cost of nursing home care in Louisiana is approximately $6000 per month and those costs can quickly deplete the nest egg you have saved making it impossible to leave material assets to those you want to have them. Ideally, nursing home costs would be paid for with a long-term care insurance policy. However, only a very small percentage of the population has a long-term care insurance policy to cover these costs and they must look to alternate resources to pay long term care costs. Medicaid is the source that is most often used for this purpose. Medicaid was created in 1965 and is a joint federal and state program which provides medical care to eligible persons. It also provides funds for long-term care for the impoverished elderly and disabled. According to the General Accounting Office, Medicaid accounts for almost 50% of long-term care costs in 2003.
Know The Medicaid Law to Preserve Your Family Legacy
In 2005, a new law was passed making it more difficult for families to qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home costs while still preserving the family’s property. However, with proper Medicaid and estate planning, there are still things that can be done to accomplish both goals. At Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, we know estate planning and the latest strategies to help you preserve a lasting legacy for your family.
Medicaid Law Counseling
If you or a loved one needs more information about Medicaid law, VA benefits, or estate planning, please contact us to schedule a Medicaid Counseling session.
Special Needs Planning
Do you have a child or adult who is physically or mentally disabled? At Legacy Estate and Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC, we make it a priority to ensure that your disabled child/disabled individual is taken care of in the event that you are unable to provide that care. Creating a detailed plan for the disabled individual can eliminate stress or confusion in the long-run. Many disabled individuals are also recipients of government funding. We, at Legacy Estate and Elder Law, LLC, are committed to ensuring that your long-term plan does not interfere with government aid such as Social Security or Medicaid. It is our top priority to ensure that you and your loved ones are cared for. Our compassionate staff will not only tailor your special needs planning to your specific needs and desires but will also communicate what is necessary to maximize the care of the disabled individual and minimize the stress and confusion of you and your family.
When someone is unable to make their own decisions or handle their own affairs, it may be necessary for a court to appoint someone to do those things for them. In most states, that process is called a guardianship. In Louisiana, it is called an interdiction. We are called on often to help families in this situation and know that it can be a difficult time where expert advice and understanding is required.