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Estate Planning and Estate Litigation

For over 30 years, Gil Dozier has prepared documents to serve his clients’ needs for handling all matters of family and small business affairs. For him, this area of practice known as Estate Planning and Estate Litigation has grown and has proven especially valuable given the deep relationships involved with this level of trust. It is important to be able to freely discuss our plans, dreams and wishes for our family members and Gil Dozier has the experience and maturity to guide his clients though the many choices for such plans. A trust is useful when the individual creating the trust (synonymously called creator, settlor, or granter) wants property to be managed in a certain way, for a specific purpose or to avoid certain risks. As such, the initial question for creating a trust relates to the start of its application. A trust taking effect during the grantor’s lifetime is called a living trust (often an “inter vivos trust”, meaning between the living). Conversely, the trust may take effect only upon the death of the grantor. This type of trust is called a testamentary trust.

Division of Property by Operation of Law

When an individual dies without having a valid Will (often called a “Last Will and Testament”), the decedent’s property is distributed by operation of law to his descendants (children), his ascendants (parents), his collaterals (siblings) and to a spouse not separated from him. This is called an “Intestate Succession”. The automatic application of law is designed to treat each heir fairly and to provide for the orderly transfer of property and property rights. It is further designed to benefit society as a whole through the public policy in favor of keeping all forms of property in use. Disputes are common regarding the difference between separate property (being the assets accrued by an individual before marriage or during a marriage governed by a prenuptial agreement or otherwise acquired through gifts or inheritance) and community property (being all assets acquired by both spouses through their joint effort acting as a community or otherwise through any means except gifts or inheritances). Mr. Dozier is familiar with and has litigated this issue for his clients. His experience as a litigator further his experience as a counselor. Disputes are also common regarding the application of the rights of the surviving spouse as a usufructuary over the estate of community assets (especially the use and fruits of the assets such as the use or rent of immovable property).

Division of Property by the Last Will & Testament

When an individual dies having executed a valid Last Will & Testament, the decedent’s property is distributed according to his instructions. There are some state law restrictions designed to protect children and young adults and any descendants with a disability, but otherwise the testator can distribute his property as he sees fit. Disputes are common though regarding the validity of the Will involving issues of competency, form and substance required by law, and confusion or inconsistencies. Mr. Dozier is familiar with and has litigated cases involving whether the Will satisfied the strict requirements of form, whether the testator was competent, whether the executor abused or wasted assets of the Estate, etc.

Whatever questions you may have regarding the proper distribution of assets and property, Mr. Dozier can help guide you and, if necessary, represent you in court.


The use of a trust is a popular approach to handle the ownership, management and use of property and assets. Mr. Dozier has advised clients and prepared numerous types of trust to address his clients’ preferences and objectives. The trust is a separate legal entity registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State and with the IRS (with its own Taxpayer Identification Number). Once created, the grantor transfers selected property or assets to the trust.

All trust are either Revocable or Irrevocable. A Revocable Trust can be changed, modified or revoked by the Grantor of the trust. The Revocable Trust is often used to facilitate a final transfer at the death of the Grantor without going through the Succession process to obtain a Judgment of Possession. However, the Revocable Trust is not advisable for either tax purposes or asset-protection objectives. Mr. Dozier will elaborate on each purpose served upon the initial consultation.

The Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed once created. Further, once an asset is transferred to an irrevocable trust, it cannot be removed. The irrevocable trust does serve to protect the asset from external claims or creditors. There are many trusts in common use, including:

  • A Special Needs Trust – is for a person who qualifies for social security benefits, but carefully drafted and designed to avoid being disqualified upon receiving or being the ultimate beneficiary of the trust.
  • A Charitable Trust – is for the benefit of the public or a specific charitable organization. Such trusts are designed for philanthropic reasons or for avoidance of taxes payable to government and the directed use of such funds for a greater or better impact for our community.
  • A Marital Trust – is for the benefit of the surviving spouse by transferring assets to the trust with supporting income flowing to the surviving spouse. It is common but not required to further provide for a complete transfer to the surviving heirs upon the death of both spouses.
  • An Asset Protection Trust – is used to protect assets from lawsuits and creditors.
  • A Children’s Trust – is used to provide financial assistance to pay for a child’s or grandchild’s education (or other needs determined by the creator) while controlling or restricting general access to the financial assets until the age selected by the creator.
  • A Credit Shelter Trust – is used to allow the amount of both spouse’s tax exemptions to reduce estate taxes while further allowing the surviving spouse to have full use of both spouse’s assets.
  • A Qualified Terminal Interest Property Trust – is used to provide the surviving spouse with income for life while further allowing the creator to decide in advance who will ultimately inherit the QTIP trust assets following the surviving spouse’s death. This trust is often used to guarantee that certain assets will be received by the children from a prior marriage.

As will be discussed by Mr. Dozier, trust are versatile estate planning tools to achieve your objectives. The amount of time and expenses on the front-end will spare many from the confusion and conflict, and expenses, at a later date.

Client Reviews

The best attorney you can get – Gil Dozier – period. I’m always telling people about him. Trustworthy and honest. He is down to earth and always personable. He is a good man.

Rebecca A.

My life was forever changed when I was hurt on a drill ship in the Gulf. The injury was severe and required amputation. I remember how thorough Mr. Dozier’s interviews were. He wanted to know about every piece of...

Jeron A.

Gil has been there for me and my family at the most important times when the most important decisions were needed. He has represented my business in disputed matters as well. He is extremely well thought out and...

Todd S.

He is a very dependable, reliable person. Someone that I know can get the job done. Mr. Dozier has my best interest. He always keeps his word. He is patient and will take his time with you. If somebody is dealing...

Brenda F.

I have known Gil Dozier for 20 years. He’s very professional. He has represented my business several times with great success.

Jerry M.

I hired Gil Dozier about 10 years ago. That was the first time I’d ever met an attorney. He is trustworthy and compassionate. Mr. Dozier puts your needs first and looks out for your best interest. Not just for you...

Heather W.

I highly recommend Mr. Dozier. Mr. Dozier is detailed specific. He is an incredible attorney. He makes sure he gets the job done right. I always recommend Mr. Dozier to all of my friends and family. I wouldn’t go...

Allyda N.

Another attorney suggested I settle for a certain figure. Then, I got Gil Dozier and recovered much, much more! I would highly recommend Gil Dozier to my family and friends. He and his staff took great care of me. He...

Chris B.

Following my automobile accident, the insurance company was giving me the run-around. Gil Dozier eliminated a lot of my stress when it came to dealing with the insurance company. He took the bull by the horns and took...

Laurie F.

I have been involved in two (2) automobile collisions in my life. I hired Mr. Dozier for both. Gil Dozier helped me out a lot during the life of each case. He kept me informed throughout the entire case. I wouldn’t...

Kendallyn D.

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