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.
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).
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:
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.