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Forced Heirship and Collation: Forced heirship is unique to Louisiana and can dramatically impact your estate plan.  Likewise, collation can have a profound impact on the forced portion and on your succession proceedings.  Forced heirship is designed to prevent a person from disinheriting certain children or grandchildren.  It was born under the presumption that parents desire to treat their children equally. What is Forced Heirship? Per La. Civ. Code art. 1494, a forced heir must receive a portion of their parent’s estate.  This is so regardless of a will or trust to the contrary.  For example, if a will leaves

Buy-Sell Agreements: Owners of closely held businesses may not think about what will happen when a co-owner wants to sell his or her interests in the business, unexpectedly passes away, files for bankruptcy, or goes through a divorce.  If you don’t know what would happen to your business and its ownership in one of these situations, you should consider a buy-sell agreement or amending your existing business documents.  Afterall, preparation and planning are essential to sustaining any business.  These situations do not need to disrupt your business operations.  Buy-sell agreements allow owners to avoid costly litigation while preserving their involvement in the

Importance of a Power of Attorney: Most people recognize the importance of comprehensive estate planning, although they may choose to avoid it for as long as possible.  One important part of your estate plan is your power of attorney (POA).  Basically, a POA is a document that empowers an individual to make legal decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated or are unable to do so for yourself.  You can choose the extent of the authority you grant in the “agent” by working together with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how to best represent your

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates the collection practices of third-party debt collectors and law firms engaged in collections.  The FDCPA is found at 15 USC 1692 et seq.  It was designed to protect consumers by eliminating abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices.  It also protects reputable debt collectors and law firms from unfair competition.  Below is a comprehensive outline of restrictions and requirements that debt collectors must follow to ensure FDCPA compliance. When Does the FDCPA Apply? The FDCPA applies only to the collection of debt incurred by a consumer primarily

Louisiana Default Judgment Laws: It has been a year since Louisiana’s new default judgment laws went into effect on January 1, 2022.  Practitioners and judges alike have now had enough time to adjust to the changes in the law.  As a practitioner who takes default judgments every week, these changes were of particular interest to myself, my staff, and my clients.  One of the first questions I received last January was: “[i]s it going to be harder to get a default judgment?”  My short answer then was that it appeared it would be a give and take; that one step

Will Your Business Interruption Insurance Cover Your COVID-19 Losses? As businesses continue to shut down across Louisiana and the nation in response to city and state “stay at home” orders, business owners are worried about whether this public health disaster is covered under their business interruption insurance protection plans.  If they listen to their insurance agents or the many media articles on the topic, they probably think they are out of luck.  However, business owners have nothing to lose by filing a claim to test the waters, and if that claim is denied they always have the option to file

What Should I do After a Car Accident? 1. Stay at the scene: Never leave the scene of an accident, no matter how minor it seems.  2. Protect the scene: Put your vehicle in park, turn off the engine, and turn on your hazard lights.  If you have them, use cones, flares, or reflectors to warn other drivers of your presence.  If the wreck is minor, meaning there is little damage and no injuries, move the vehicles out of the way of traffic, especially if you are on the interstate. 3. Check for injuries: Check yourself, your passengers, and the

Social Security Grid Rules: The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) that decide social security disability cases at the hearing level frequently use a grid of the Medical-Vocational Rules to determine if a claimant is disabled or not.  If the “grid rules” indicate a finding of disabled, then it is referred to as “gridding out” and the analysis essentially stops in the claimant’s favor.  On the other hand, if the grids indicate a finding of not-disabled, it is still possible that you can be found disabled if your functional capacity is further eroded by other limitations

What is the Louisiana Direct Action Statute? Louisiana is a “direct action” state, meaning a plaintiff may name an insurer in a lawsuit.  In most other states, if you bring a personal injury lawsuit, you cannot name the insurance carrier in that lawsuit.  Louisiana on the other hand was one of the first to enact a direct action statute.  It expresses Louisiana’s long public policy that “an insurance policy against liability is not issued primarily for the protection of the insured but for the protection of the public.”  Davies v. Consolidated Underwriters , (La. 1942). La. R.S. 22:1269 does not create

What is Comparative Fault? The term “comparative fault” refers to a system of apportioning damages between negligent parties based on their proportionate shares of fault.  Under a comparative fault system, a plaintiff’s negligence will not completely bar recovery like states that employ the harsh contributory negligence rule, but it will reduce the amount of damages the plaintiff can recover based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. The “pure comparative fault rule” allows a damaged party to recover even if it is 99% at fault, although the recovery is reduced by the damaged party’s degree of fault.   Louisiana’s comparative fault law