Under Louisiana law, one can provide specific directions or the designation of a specific person to control the internment of that person’s remains. The directions must be in the form of a notarial testament or a written and notarized declaration. In the absence of specific directions, the law creates a priority of persons to make

When we meet with clients concerning their estate planning, we want to focus on assets such as IRA’s, life insurance policies, annuities, 401k accounts, and 403b accounts.  We normally refer to these accounts as “non-probate assets”.   Non-probate assets normally pass at death by way of a written beneficiary form.  These forms are usually provided by

Tragedies generally get people thinking about their preparedness or the lack thereof.  This recent pandemic is a perfect case in point.  Yes, Congress is sending cash payments to individuals, but many are concerned about their current personal needs from a planning standpoint.

Do you have a general durable power of attorney or a healthcare power

On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “TCJA”). The TCJA enacts a number of important tax changes, including some significant changes to the federal gift tax and the federal estate tax that take effect in 2018. Specifically, the TCJA doubles the amount of the “applicable exclusion amount” for

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By Kyle McInnis and Kevin Curry

On August 2, 2016, the Treasury Department issued new proposed tax regulations that would substantially eliminate many of the valuation discounts used for transfer tax purposes by family-owned businesses.  The regulations disregard restrictions on the redemption and liquidation of a family-owned business for valuation purposes.  In effect, this would

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By Kyle C. McInnis

The recent downturn in energy prices has given consumers a welcomed break at the gasoline pump. The people producing the energy, however, from landowners, to oil companies, to oil field service providers, have felt the full negative effects of the steep price decline. Those producers are seeing price pressure at every

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The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 was signed into law on December 17, 2010, and included a key provision – providing for “portability” between spouses of the unified credit. On January 2, 2013, the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 (“ATRA”), was signed into law, including a provision making

By Kyle C. McInnis

New parents have to make a number of adjustments to their lives. From dealing with diaper rash to sleep deprivation, they have a lot to deal with. But parenting duties are not limited to physical care of a child. There are numerous financial parenting tips that every new parent must consider. This article is intended to hit the high points on the list of financial and estate planning tasks that every new parent should consider.

1) Adjust Income Tax Withholdings.

The easiest and quickest way to get extra cash into a new parent’s hands is to adjust their income tax withholdings as soon as possible. A new child should allow a new dependency withholding exemption, assuming the child qualifies as a dependent of the parent. A taxpayer qualifies for a dependency exemption in the year of the dependant’s birth and for so long as the dependent continues to satisfy the definition of a “dependant” under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 152. The additional dependency exemption should work to reduce a parent’s required tax withholdings from his or her paycheck.

The parent should adjust his or her withholding certificate as soon as possible to take advantage of the new withholding exemption. The IRC allows for almost immediate adjustment to an employee’s withholding certificate. The IRC even allows prospective adjustments to withholding calculations if furnished before December 1 of the prior year under IRC § 3402(f)(2)(C). The sooner a parent’s withholding certificate is adjusted, the sooner his or her take home pay gets a much needed bump.

2) Identify Applicable Tax Breaks.

The IRS grants taxpayers several child related tax breaks, in addition to the dependency exemption under IRC § 151. Every parent should examine these tax benefits in calculating their income tax liability.

First, parents are granted a child tax credit of $1,000 under IRC § 24. The child must be a qualifying child under IRC § 152(c), but this definition should cover almost all children living with the parent and less than seventeen years old. The credit is allowable against the alternative minimum tax, but begins to phase out for joint return filers making more than $110,000. For single parents, the phase out starts at $75,000. The phase out is complete at $130,000 for joint filers and $95,000 for individuals. In limited cases, the credit can be refundable under IRC § 24(d).

Parents with less than $15,000 in adjusted gross income are entitled to a tax credit for amounts paid to care for children, if such expenses allow the parent(s) to continue gainful employment. This credit is equal to thirty-five percent of the expenses incurred in caring for a child, up to a maximum amount of $3,000 for one child or $6,000 for two or more children.

Adoptive parents of special needs children also have a special tax break designed solely for them. Under IRC § 23, adoptive parents of children who are less than eighteen years old and physically or mentally incapable of caring for themselves are entitled to a tax credit for adoption expenses of up to $10,000. This credit is subject to a phase out for high earners.

3) Review or Create an Estate Plan.

Most new parents don’t have an estate plan because they’ve never thought they needed one. In a sense they are right. Louisiana law generally provides a spouse substantial rights in the community property of a decedent during the surviving spouse’s lifetime if the couple has no children. For single people, property usually stays within their family at death. But, when children arrive, a will is a must.


Continue Reading Financial Planning for the Growing Family – Seven Important Tips for New Parents

By Kevin C. Curry

Act Number 323 of the 2011 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature modified the rules on small successions in Louisiana. In addition to some other changes, the law allows the use of the small succession procedure, which generally involves filing an affidavit rather than opening judicial proceedings, to transfer title to

By Carey J. Messina and Kevin C. Curry

After a long delay, Congress has passed and President Obama has signed into law the new federal estate and gift tax legislation. It has been very difficult for some individuals to prepare an appropriate estate plan not knowing what the potential federal estate and gift taxes will be. For the next two years, 2011 and 2012, there is some certainty. Parts of the new legislation may not impact everyone, but questions always abound concerning "death taxes". Now is an excellent time to review your estate planning documents to determine whether or not they continue to carry out your intentions.

Federal Estate Tax Exemption Amount and Federal Gift Tax Exemption Amount

Beginning January 1, 2011 and continuing through 2012, the federal estate tax exemption amount will be $5 million and the federal gift tax exemption will also be $5 million. This essentially means that a married couple can pass $10 million in assets to their children without any federal estate or gift tax, with proper estate planning. The top tax rate for the federal estate and gift taxes for 2011 and 2012 will be thirty-five percent (35%). The new exemption and rate provisions are applicable only for deaths or gifts in 2011 or 2012.

Effectively, the exemption for the federal estate and gift taxes are unified again. The gift tax exemption and the estate tax exemption will be the same $5 million amount. Also, the Generation Skipping Tax (GST) Exemption is now $5 million, making it easier to transfer wealth to grandchildren.


Continue Reading New Federal Estate Tax and Gift Tax Legislation