Wills and Trusts

Will

We assist you in the design and implementation of programs to ensure that your wealth is passed along to family or others, without being negatively impacted by income, estate or inheritance taxes. This service enables you to plan your personal estate to help ensure maximum distribution and conservation to future generations. 

A will in Louisiana is the most basic estate planning document. If one dies in Louisiana without a will the state determines the distribution of assets. A will tells the world exactly where assets are to be distributed at death.

Beneficiaries named in a will receive distributions from the estate of the decedent.

An executor/executrix named in a will is responsible for overseeing the process of distributing assets of the decedent to the beneficiaries.

Louisiana is a forced heirship state. Forced heirs in Louisiana are children of the decedent who have not reached their 24th birthday or are mentally or physically disabled.

Wills are of utmost importance in Louisiana and should be monitored periodically in the event updating the document is necessary.

Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows for an appointment of a person(s) or organization to take care of legal, medical or financial affairs usually if one becomes mentally incapacitated. A power of attorney can go into effect immediately for a specific time period or purpose or when a specific trigger occurs----such as incapacity. Powers of attorney can be rescinded anytime if the principal is in full capacity. A power of attorney  in Louisiana must be in written document format signed by the principal in the presence of a notary and two unrelated witnesses. The importance of a power of attorney is in many cases not realized until one is needed but never obtained. In this case an interdiction may be necessary which can be a long, expensive and emotionally traumatic experience.

Living Trust

The primary purpose in retitling assets into a living trust is to avoid probate/succession and the delays and expenses that accompany the process. Privacy can be another advantage of disbursing assets via a trust rather than a will. Probate assets are public record while trust assets are not. Trusts can provide some measure of control over assets distributed to beneficiaries even after death. In addition, trusts are much more difficult to contest than a will. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

Retirement Planning

Having the ability to retire comfortably and free from financial pressures remains the main issue for our clients - both business owners and employees. It is critical that the retirement plan be properly designed, implemented, communicated and administered. Retirement plans are dynamic, changing as client’s businesses and tax laws change. They demand continued and careful analysis, IRS compliance review and plan administration. 

Retirement planning is a multistep process that evolves over time. Retirement planning begins with thinking about retirement goals and how long you have to meet them. Different types of retirement accounts can help raise the money to fund your retirement. Some investment accounts are more susceptible to market or inflation risk than others, therefore getting an early start on retirement planning is beneficial. A critical part of planning is taxes. If you receive tax deferrals over the years for the money that has been contributed to the retirement accounts, then a significant tax bill awaits once withdrawals begin from those accounts.

Factors to consider when beginning to put together a retirement plan are 1) TIME HORIZON 2) RISK TOLERANCE 3) AFTER TAX RETURNS 4) RETIREMENT SPENDING NEEDS 5) ETATE PLANNING.

Strategies to maximize social security benefits play a key role in retirement planning and taking advantage of Roth IRA/401k contributions can certainly reduce taxable income in retirement if those contributions begin early in the accumulation years.

Meeting with a professional who knows how to implement retirement strategies years prior to retirement is critical in maximizing retirement income and minimizing taxable income. 

Investment Management

Fee based money management by investment advisors is by in large replacing commissioned based money management within the financial services industry. The Department of Labor and the regulators (FINRA & SEC) are requiring more transparency of fees to the consumer. Management fees are the price charged by the advisor to cover their time and expertise. If the advisor actively buys and sells investments for an account, the fee is likely to be a percentage of assets under management (AUM). Usually the fee is annualized but charged on a quarterly basis and disclosed on the quarterly account statement. The advisor may make the investment decisions for the client portfolio or use a third party money manager to do so. The account balance is always available for the client to make withdrawals or even a full liquidation without any withdrawal/termination fees.

Many advisors are now using third party money managers to enhance the number of strategies available to their clients. Younger clients are traditionally more growth oriented and have time to weather the volatility that come with a more aggressively managed portfolio. Clients nearing or already retired tend to be less aggressive and more income oriented as they trend closer to having to access their retirement accounts. It is relatively easy for an advisor to transform from a growth money management platform to an income platform using third party money managers that specialize in different investment strategies.

Life Insurance

Buying a life insurance policy can seem very simple. In fact we are bombarded daily with TV advertisements of low cost coverage. However, what is being offered is a term policy that most of us will outlive. We may not be able to afford renewing it when our families need it most. We offer a comprehensive personal financial engineering program that will help you find and determine the right life insurance policy for you. Educating our clients as to the “living benefits” of life insurance will also prove to be of great value. The death benefit of permanent life insurance can be used as leverage to implement charitable planning techniques, spenddown strategies, reverse mortgages or pension maximization.