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Lorenzi & Barnatt, L.L.P.
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If you are like most Louisiana residents, you have accumulated quite a large digital footprint. You no longer receive paper statements regarding your deposit accounts or creditors. You may have accounts with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps you use a PayPal account that's tied to your eBay account. With all of these online accounts, you have created yourself a digital life. As you embark on your estate-planning journey, you may want to be sure that you make provisions for your digital assets as well. You can transfer ownership of these assets in your will or put them into your trust, but you can also create a digital will to deal with them specifically.
What is a digital will? This particular document does not need to be as formal as your last will and testament. However, it does need to provide your family members with instructions to close down your digital accounts. You may want to consider the following if you think you could make use of such a document: You will need to inventory your online accounts, including the following, among other things: Online bank accounts Social media accounts Email accounts Online brokerage accounts Photo storage Blogs Accounts that make withdrawals from your bank account You will need to choose someone you trust to serve as executor. This person should know the location of your digital will, along with an alternate executor, just in case your first choice cannot or will not serve when the time comes. You will need to provide your executor with detailed instructions regarding each of your digital accounts. This is where you decide what happens to them, but you may want to remember to identify any property transfers in your formal will or trust. Once you complete the document, it needs your signature. You may not need to go through the formal execution process as with your formal will and other estate planning documents, but it wouldn't hurt. This may help keep surviving family members from arguing over these assets and accounts. Like other estate planning documents, this document needs a safe storage place. You may also want to review it periodically to ensure that it still reflects all of your accounts and outlines how you want them handled upon your death. Doing so could avoid an account slipping through the cracks. You may also want to make sure that it does not contradict any other document that provides instructions regarding your assets.
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Paying the steep fines associated with certain criminal charges can be cost prohibitive for some Lake Charles residents. Recently enacted state laws could make doing so even harder. Fines for drunk driving convictions were recently raised, adding on a bigger burden for those already in the middle of a difficult situation. Driving in flooded areas, using off-road vehicles while on public roads and penalties for driving under the influence are just some of the areas addressed by the new traffic laws. Now, if a person is convicted on a DWI, he or she will have to fork over an extra $50 if a Breathalyzer was used during the arrest. This raises the previous fine of $75 up to $125.
Another law deals with probation for DWI offenders who are on their third or fourth offense. Judges can now extend probation for these individuals, setting it for as long as eight years if they so choose. This change also makes it easier for judges to order substance abuse treatment in the wake of a conviction. Even minor increases in fines can be overwhelming for Lake Charles defendants who are living on limited incomes or below the poverty level. As such, minimizing the impact of drunk driving charges is essential, especially for those who rely on their vehicles for work or school. Defendants can take several approaches to accomplish this, such as requesting an administrative hearing to retain their driving rights, negotiating a plea deal for lesser charges or fighting the allegations until the end of trial court proceedings.
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Being arrested for possessing drugs can be a frightening experience. Few Lake Charles defendants are prepared for just how overwhelming everything that comes after the arrest can be. From being formally charged to beginning criminal defense preparations, doing so alongside a dedicated counsel can help you better handle the charges filed against you. Drug possession is a serious offense that carries severe criminal consequences. Any type of drug -- including prescription medication -- may lead to these types of charges. Commonly cited drugs include: Marijuana Ecstasy Cocaine Methamphetamine And more
The severity of your charges will vary depending on the type of drug and how much of it you are accused of possessing. If police claim they found large amounts of cocaine in your possession, you will likely face more serious criminal allegations than if you were accused of having a small amount of marijuana. Regardless of the severity of your charges, you should treat the matter seriously. A criminal record that includes drug offenses can prevent you from maintaining or gaining certain types of employment, and can even prevent you from taking advantage of some educational opportunities. Early planning that includes a thorough review of all charges, evidence and related information can help Lake Charles defendants create the best possible criminal defense strategy. For some this means negotiating a plea deal that yields less serious charges, while others choose to fight their allegations until the very end of trial court proceedings. When going in either direction, defendants should be certain that they have knowledgeable counsel willing to uphold their rights on their side.
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A 60-year-old man is in police custody for allegedly possessing and distributing significant amounts of prescription drugs. His arrest came from an ongoing investigation into suspected drug activity in the area, which has so far yielded 53 warrants and 221 felony charges. Consequences for felony drug charges are severe, and minimizing the impact often requires a more intensive criminal defense approach for people in Lake Charles. Police claim that the man used his home and workshop to store prescription drugs such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Alprazolam and Suboxone. Not only did they reportedly find these medications while searching his property, they also allegedly found various drug paraphernalia and significant amounts of cash. He also had a surveillance system installed on his property.
Footage from the surveillance system supposedly shows the property owner engaging in drug transactions with 60 individuals during a single week in March 2018, 53 of whom have apparently been identified. This led to his arrest in that same month, after which he was eventually released. However, additional evidence led to a second arrest in July, during which he was charged with over 100 different counts for possessing and distributing various drugs. Police also charged five other people for various involvement in the operation. Regardless of the number of criminal charges that a Lake Charles defendant faces, the goal is typically the same -- achieve the best possible outcome for one's unique situation. For some, this could mean negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution, which could result in charges being lowered and/or in achieving favorable sentencing considerations. However, others can make the most of their criminal defense by fighting the allegations until the very end of criminal proceedings.
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For young adults in Lake Charles, creating an estate plan can seem more than necessary. After all, what could a person with few assets and no dependents have to protect? As it turns out, quite a lot. Estate planning in early adulthood is essential for virtually everyone, even those who are young and healthy. Although it is likely true that young adults do not spend much time thinking about their own deaths, that does not change the fact that passing on is an aspect of life that everyone must prepare for. Sure, most adults feel like they are in the prime of their lives, but an unexpected accident or illness could suddenly change all of that. A comprehensive estate plan addresses what will happen in a range of circumstances.
For example, if a person is hurt in accident, incapacitated and cannot make medical decisions on his or her own, who does? Adults who only recently broke into their 20s often wrongly assume that their parents can make those decisions, but there is no guarantee that they will have the legal right to do so. Establishing a living will that outlines what medical treatments a person is comfortable with and an accompanying health care proxy enables someone the person trusts to make those decisions on his or her behalf. Young adults also need a basic will. This is a written document that outlines a person's wishes and gives instructions about how he or she would like his or her assets handled after death. Assets are not always so-called big items or those that are worth lots of money. Wills often handle much smaller assets -- such as a vehicle or electronics -- or those with no financial value but with emotional significance. By creating a basic estate plan when young, most Lake Charles residents can establish a strong foundation for future estate planning needs. These documents are not written in stone, so people can update them annually to reflect new assets, dependents or other life changes. Ultimately, these plans can help even young adults ensure that their final wishes are respected to the fullest.
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As a young person, perhaps just out of college and taking your first steps toward a satisfying career, you probably have a lot of goals for your future. Maybe you hope to marry, raise a family, start your own business and retire comfortably. If you are a careful planner, leaving little to chance, you may already have a path in mind for how to achieve some of those goals. One thing that may not be on your horizon is your estate plan. After all, making a will is for your grandparents, and you have a lot of life ahead of you. However, all of those goals you have set and will work hard to achieve deserve some protection, as well as the people you hope to bring into your life. Estate planning is something that can protect you now and grow and change as you do.
Moving with you through life Just as you move through stages of life, so can your estate plan. You will modify and adjust your financial plans throughout your life, and you can do the same with your estate plan. However, why would you need an estate plan now if you are still young, single and healthy? Some very important factors make it critical to create an estate plan at your stage in life, for example: Since your parents are no longer legally able to speak for you, your estate plan can designate a health care proxy to make medical decisions if you ever suffer an illness or injury and are unable to communicate. An estate plan can also name a durable power of attorney so that someone you trust can manage your investments, pay your bills and handle other financial matters if you are incapacitated. Your will can include a HIPAA release so that doctors can share your confidential medical information with your loved ones to help them make important decisions. Because you do not have a spouse or children, you may have others to whom you would prefer to leave your assets instead of having the Louisiana courts decide this for you in the event of your untimely death. Once you become engaged, marry, have children or even divorce, you can return frequently to your estate plan and make any adjustments necessary, such as changing your POA designations and beneficiaries, creating trusts and naming guardians for your children. As you age, you may wish to establish a plan for the succession of your business or add a charitable trust for a worthy cause. You will eventually want to include your wishes and arrangements for after you pass away. An estate plan can be a flexible and powerful gift to your loved ones, even if those loved ones are still a distant dream. Based on your unique circumstances, there may be other estate planning instruments that would benefit you right now, and a legal professional can answer your questions.
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While some parents in Lake Charles prepare to send their children off to college or out into the world for their first "grown-up" jobs, others are traveling a somewhat different path. Parents of special needs parents often provide care for their children for much longer than average, and with that comes certain obstacles, particularly those related to finances. When used as part of estate planning, special needs trusts can greatly benefit everyone involved. There is no denying that health care is expensive. Covering the costs of regular therapies, medications and other related care for an individual with a disability or special needs can be even costlier. There are certain government assistance programs that can help, with two of the most common being Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. However, these are needs-based programs, which can leave middle-income families with bills they cannot afford and no way to get help.
Establishing a special needs trust is an excellent solution. This type of trust is usually set up to benefit a person with disabilities, and manages their income and other assets -- such as inheritances or personal injury settlements. This can help ensure continued financial support for adults with special needs, but can also help them qualify for SSI and Medicaid. These trusts are not counted as income, making it much more likely that individuals can get the help they desperately need. Estate planning can be complicated for parents of children with special needs. Many worry about what will happen to their child's care and well-being after they are gone. There are several steps that Lake Charles parents can take to ensure continued care for their child, and special needs trusts are just one of the many options available.
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Louisiana police recently arrested a man they claim fled the scene of a pedestrian accident. The man in question is charged with a first offense for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, hit and run, careless operation, and more. These types of drunk driving allegations can be quite serious, and anyone in Lake Charles who is facing similar charges would be well advised to seek guidance where necessary. The accident occurred in the afternoon on July 3, 2018, when the driver allegedly lost control of the vehicle he was driving. His car veered off of the road on the left side, struck a person who was sitting on a bus bench and then returned to the roadway, where he continued driving. The victim was transported to the hospital where he was admitted for multiple serious injuries, including two broken legs and a suspected head injury.
Police caught up to the suspected driver at his apartment complex and stopped him before he could step inside his home. They claim he displayed signs of possible intoxication, and then he admitted to having drunk alcohol before getting behind the wheel. He then apparently failed a field sobriety test and submitted to a Breathalyzer, which showed a blood-alcohol content of .188 percent, more than double the legal limit. He was arrested and taken into police custody. Consequences for a DUI can range from community service to jail time and should not be taken lightly. Lake Charles residents who are charged with first offense drunk driving should understand that these types of allegations tend to proceed quickly. As such, prompt attention to criminal allegations, related evidence and potential consequences is essential to building a solid defense foundation.
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Every year, couples across the Lake Charles area let out a deep sigh of relief as they finalize their divorces and move on with their lives. Unfortunately, many forget one last thing when wrapping up the loose ends of their old married lives -- their wills. Anyone who has experienced a major life change should revisit the estate planning process and make important updates as needed. End-of-life decisions are integral to personal dignity, so many people choose to create living wills that outline their wishes. These are typically accompanied by health care powers of attorney, which gives someone else the ability to make those decisions on their behalf. If an ex-spouse is listed as the health care proxy, a divorce will not cancel their legal right to make medical decisions, so an updated power of attorney is essential after divorce.
Although in some cases it makes sense to leave assets to an ex-spouse, most people prefer to redirect their important assets and account benefits to different family members. Updating wills to reflect this is important, as is naming your chosen beneficiaries on any official account documents. It is important to check all relevant accounts, including retirement funds and life insurance policies. Making a clean break from an unhappy marriage is not always easy. Still, people in Lake Charles can take conscious steps in that direction. By revisiting estate planning during or soon after divorce, individuals can ensure that their assets, estate and end-of-life care will be handled in a manner that reflects their personal wishes.
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A recent single-vehicle wreck led Louisiana police to make an arrest. The driver accused of drunk driving did not appear to be injured in the wreck. He is facing several criminal charges, including a hit and run and weight restriction charges on top of a first offense DWI. For Lake Charles residents facing similar charges, the potential effects of a criminal conviction can be devastating. Police were called to the scene of the accident where an 18-wheeler had apparently struck a fire hydrant, street sign, stop sign and fence. By the time officers arrived the driver had already fled and parked the large truck behind a nearby Walmart. It is unclear if he was on the clock at the time of the wreck.
When authorities located the driver and his truck they allegedly observed the 35-year-old driver behaving in a manner that indicated he was intoxicated. Officers also noted that he smelled strongly of alcohol. The driver, however, refused to submit to field sobriety testing and would not take a Breathalyzer, so police obtained a search warrant to have his blood drawn. His blood-alcohol content results are not yet available. Although a first offense drunk driving charge may sound less serious than second or third offenses, it can still have a profound effect on defendants' lives. Many temporarily lose their driving privileges, which makes it difficult to maintain their employment, particularly if their jobs relied on their ability to drive. Handling these charges quickly is essential for any Lake Charles resident accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol, as these allegations move through the criminal system much more quickly than other types of charges.
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