Lake Charles Law Blog

Estate planning in the digital age

So much of people's lives now take place in the digital world. From saving and sharing family photos to hailing rides and ordering basic household supplies, it is hard to think of something that cannot be easily accomplished on the internet. While the internet might make life easier, not everyone in Lake Charles is handling estate planning accordingly.

There is a lot of personal data out there, and accessing it after a person's death is not always easy. Some people may even think that giving their family members access to online data is not that important in the first place. But what about important information stored on a smartphone that is protected by a passcode? Or financial information only accessible through a bank's website? These are considered digital assets, and like all other assets they belong in an estate plan.

Have you been accused of health care fraud?

You, like numerous others in the health care industry, likely entered the medical field because you had a desire to help others. Perhaps from a young age, you felt the need to tend to others and believed that becoming a doctor, nurse or other medical professional was your calling in life.

Though your workdays undoubtedly have their ups and downs, you likely never expected to find yourself facing criminal charges for health care fraud. Nonetheless, such serious allegations are on your doorstep, and you may understandably wonder what to do. A wise first step is to gain information on where the suspicion came from.

2 drivers charged with drunk driving after deadly wreck

A fatal accident led to the recent arrest of a both a Louisiana man and woman. According to police, two drivers may have been under the influence of alcohol when they were involved in the deadly wreck. One driver, a woman, is now facing multiple drunk driving charges, including a third-offense DWI and having an open alcoholic container. The other driver, a man, was charged with a DWI first offense. Since police are still investigating the accident, it is possible that more charges will be filed.

The wreck in question happened back on April 13. The recently arrested 53-year-old man was behind the wheel of a pickup truck when police say he made a left turn without yielding to the oncoming traffic. He ended up in the path of an oncoming vehicle, driven by a 37-year-old woman. The two vehicles collided, resulting in one death. The male driver's front seat passenger was the victim.

Did Aretha Franklin do some estate planning after all?

Wills are a central component to most estate plans, but it is also important to update these documents and craft new ones when necessary. However, it should be made obvious which will is the newest, most updated version. When Louisiana residents fail to complete this important estate planning task, they could be leaving behind a significant burden for their families.

When Aretha Franklin passed away in Aug. 2018, her family believed that she had not created any type of estate planning documents. That was until a recent discovery turned up three different handwritten wills. It is not clear when these wills were written or under what circumstances, but they were apparently not located in obvious or easily accessible locations. One of the wills was even found hidden underneath seat cushions.

Man faces first offense drunk driving charge despite past charges

When a person has already been convicted of a drunk driving offense, they can generally expect to face steeper criminal consequences the second, third or even fourth time around. These drunk driving offenses usually involve higher fines and longer jail time. However, in some cases, a person might not have to face certain DUI offenses even if they have past arrests or convictions.

Police in Lake Charles recently arrested a man after a car chase that led into a neighboring town. After the chase ended, police determined that the driver might have been under the influence of alcohol. Authorities later learned that the driver had five prior incidents of DWI. Despite this, the driver will not be charged with a sixth offense DWI.

Estate planning around family matters

While creating an estate plan might be hard, there is one aspect of the process that many people in Lake Charles think will come easy. Deciding who gets what is an instrumental aspect of estate planning, and perhaps the part that most people are familiar with. Unfortunately, figuring out how to pass on inheritances to heirs is rarely as easy as it seems. This is especially true for people who have unique family dynamics.

Updating an estate plan after a divorce is usually a given. But what about after a second marriage? Parents no longer have just their own children to consider, but also their new spouse and any stepchildren. If a person leaves everything to their second spouse the individual also runs the risk of his or her own kids possibly receiving nothing at all from the estate. Blended families should consider the benefits of being open and honest regarding estate planning, which can help prevent accidentally leaving anyone out.

Bill seeks to increase consequences for drunk driving charges

Drivers arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated already face significant criminal consequences. Even those who are never convicted can end up losing their licenses and face other consequences in their personal lives. Despite the already steep outcomes that most people accused of drunk driving deal with, Louisiana lawmakers are trying to make things even more difficult.

Current criminal consequences for drunk driving include thousands of dollars in fines, driving privileges and even jail time. Some lawmakers do not believe that these are enough for those accused of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. Pointing to an April 2018 incident in which a Lake Charles man was arrested on his alleged sixth DWI offense and a statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that cites a higher than average drunk driver fatality rate, some think change is necessary.

Remaining silent may be your best option

When a Louisiana police officer suspects you of having committed a crime, he or she may begin to ask you questions. Typically, these questions take place as the officer tries to gain more information about the situation in efforts to determine whether to take you into custody. Some of these questions may seem harmless or unrelated to the event, but officers are always looking for evidence in any question.

Understandably, you may have many concerns about how you should answer these questions, especially if seemingly unrelated questions could still land you in a tough spot. In reality, the best way to answer a police officer's questions is not to answer them at all. By choosing to remain silent, you do not give the officer the opportunity to gather evidence from your statements.

Do you still believe in these estate planning myths?

Thinking about what will happen later in life or after death is uncomfortable for most people. Dealing with emotionally uncomfortable things is not easy, and some people in Lake Charles may feel better by avoiding the subject altogether. However, this is not helpful, and skipping out on estate planning can even help fuel myths about the process.

One of the biggest misconceptions about estate planning is that it is only for people who have a lot of wealth. The truth is that anyone who owns property or who has family members depending on them needs an estate plan. This means that virtually all adults need to have at least a basic estate plan in place. Having an estate plan means that a person can protect people who rely on him or her, establish guardians for any minor children, decide how property will be distributed and much more.

Financial abuse a serious elder law problem

Planning for end-of-life needs is an important part of estate planning that many people in Lake Charles take quite seriously. Living wills and powers of attorney are common tools for this job. While most people do their best to make the most appropriate choices for their powers of attorney, things do not always turn out as they would hope. Friends and family members taking advantage of their powers of attorney privileges is unfortunately not an uncommon problem in elder law.

Many people use powers of attorney to round out their estate plans, giving specific individuals the legal right to make medical or financial decisions on their behalf. While this is incredibly useful should a person become incapacitated or need help managing their finances, selecting the wrong individual can be costly. A 2013 MetLife survey found that financial abuse of the elderly comes out to about $2.9 billion. This type of financial abuse often involves the person with the power of attorney privileges syphoning off funds for his or her own use, often leaving the loved one without the financial means for self-support. 

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