Bank vault with safety deposit boxes.

What do I keep in my Safety Deposit Box?

What do I keep in my safety deposit box?

This is a question we get all the time.  Our suggestion is important documents that are difficult, time consuming, or costly to replace.  Many times these items are available elsewhere, but can require a lot of time and effort to obtain.

  • Original Last Will and Testament, if your attorney is not keeping it on file.
  • Original Deeds for Real Estate, if your state provides purchasers with original deeds
  • Certificates of securities (actual stock certificates)
  • Certified copies of birth certificates/adoption records
  • Certified copies of marriage and divorce records
  • Original marriage licenses/certificates
  • Military discharge and service records
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Death certificates for very close relatives, or if you are working as the administrator of an estate
  • Social Security Cards
  • Government bonds – for example, a savings bond
  • Titles to automobiles currently owned
  • Actual copies of policies of insurance – life, long-term care, burial … Yes, you can get copies, but if you need it quickly, it may be easier to have it in the safety deposit box
  • Important contracts
  • Notes payable to you, (for example, your brother-in-law borrowed $10,000 from you and you had him sign a note to repay that loan)

And, you may want to keep certain things from your family that you never want to be in danger of destruction/theft.  Important jewelry, letters from long ago that are important to you, in bigger safety deposit boxes, some families keep silver.

Ready to start on your estate plan?  Then, contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Or, you can also begin collecting information on your own with the Ultimate Life Binder.


20240415_Image_Number 5 for 5 excuses not to write a will

Top 5 Excuses for Not Making a Will

Top 5 Excuses for Not Making a Will

These are what we hear as the top 5 excuses for not making a will.  And, they are all terrible for you and your family!!!

5.  It is too complicated
4.  I’m married, won’t my spouse get everything?
3.  I don’t own anything
2.  I told everyone what I want to happen
1.  I don’t have enough time

Why are the top 5 excuses terrible for your family??

5.  Making a will does not have to be complicated. We are here to help make the process easier.  With our questions and interaction, we can help focus your energy to collect your thoughts, write down your wishes, and then let us create the legal means to turn your wishes into a will.

4.  Without a will, and with children, Louisiana law provides that your spouse does not inherit your portion of property, your children do. Even if they are from a different marriage.  Yep.  That is correct. Grown children and a young new spouse who you bought a house with?  Split ownership is the result of Louisiana law protecting your children from whatever marriage.

3.  Do you own a vehicle? Have a bank account?  If you answered yes to either of these, then you need a will – as simple as that.  Do your family a favor and potentially stop making life after you difficult for them, write a will.

2.  Telling everyone what you want and $1.50 will maybe get you a cup of coffee at McDonalds. In Louisiana, telling your family your wishes does not fit into the two categories of acceptable forms of wills.  Potentially your family could honor your verbal wishes, but someone will remember your words differently than another family member, and you can image what happens at that point…. Not much good.  Create a will in a form recognized by Louisiana law.

1.  Everyone is busy. Taking care of your family (ie. writing a will) is going to take a little time, but put your family first.  And, potentially save your family from weeks, months, or years of heartache dealing with your stuff!

Do your family a favor, WRITE A WILL!

Most common mistake in self preparation of will

Wills – Most Common Mistake

In 65+ years of combined experience, the most common mistake we see is a person typing their own will, then signing, then having the signature notarized.

Unless a will like that meets the specific Louisiana requirements, this type of will is invalid.  Generally, when we have seen these self-created, or internet obtained form wills, they do not meet the  Louisiana requirements.

An invalid will most likely means that the laws of the State of Louisiana will govern the disposition of the deceased’s assets.  Of course, if everyone agrees to what was in the invalid will, we have strategies to make help assist in the succession process.  But, if one heir refuses to agree, then the entire process can become an involved, drawn out, and expensive legal proceeding that will cost much more than if the will would have been prepared in valid form.

Note:  Louisiana law has been exceedingly clear that the form required by law must be followed exactly, or the testament will be declared invalid.

To know the Louisiana law, consider the following:

Louisiana provides for two types of valid wills (or “testament” is the legal word for it):

  1. Olographic
  2. Notarial

Olographic:  Louisiana Civil Code Art. 1575 provides in part that, “An olographic testament is one entirely written, dated, and signed in the handwriting of the testator.”  Think of a piece of notebook paper with handwriting on it from the person who has died.  Yes, this is completely valid as long as it includes all of the necessary requirements.

Notarial:  Louisiana Civil Code Art. 1577 provides,

Requirements of form

The notarial testament shall be prepared in writing and dated and shall be executed in the following manner.  If the testator knows how to sign his name and to read and is physically able to do both, then:

(1)  In the presence of a notary and two competent witnesses, the testator shall declare or signify to them that the instrument is his testament and shall sign his name at the end of the testament and on each other separate page.

(2)  In the presence of the testator and each other, the notary and the witnesses shall sign the following declaration, or one substantially similar:  “In our presence the testator has declared or signified that this instrument is his testament and has signed it at the end and on each other separate page, and in the presence of the testator and each other we have hereunto subscribed our names this ____day of _________, ____.”

Only these two forms are even considered for validation in Louisiana.  And, either form may seem simple, but the details have caused many wills to be tossed by a court resulting in the Louisiana intestate succession law to govern the succession.  (Intestate means the deceased died without a last will and testament.  Even if there was a last will and testament prepared, if it is invalid, then the state treats that last will and testament as if it never existed.)

This is serious!

If you want a valid testament declaring your final wishes for transferring your assets to your loved ones, trust Jane and Scott to help you along the way.

Avoid these 3 new scams

Avoiding 3 New Scams

Scams are a constant threat!  The scammers get more and more sophisticated, develop new devious plans, and are relentless.  Here are 3 new ones to be aware of and to make your extended family aware of:

  1. Eastern European Mistake Call
    Someone’s grandmother recently received a call from someone who “mistakenly” dialed her. Rather than hang up, the nice young lady struck up an hour-long conversation! After multiple additional calls, this nice young lady tried to get the grandmother to call her via What’s App. Family members found out when the grandmother started asking young relatives how to make a What’s App call. The family immediately stopped this, over the grandmother’s protests. After looking into it further, these calls continue for about a month, then invariably the young lady has a sick child and needs money which her new “friend” will send!
  2. Impersonating a Bank Rep
    Always be wary of a banker contacting you.  Recently someone impersonating a bank employee telephoned a client asking for confidential or secure information to verify purchases.  This could also happen through email or text – beware.  Bank employees will never ask you to provide your account number, pin number, or social security number to verify purchases made by credit or debit cards.
  3. Do Not Trust Caller ID
    Scammers can compromise caller ID and appear as someone else on your device.  Do not trust caller ID, especially if it is a bank or credit card asking for account information.  Hang up.  Then, if you believe it was from your bank, lender, or credit card company, find the company’s telephone number from a past statement, and use that number to call the company back.

Be careful, be wary, and ask you your family and friends to do the same.

Notary Public

How is a Louisiana Notary Different?

Louisiana is the only state in the United States that is a Civil Law jurisdiction.  A Notary under Civil Law has a greater depth of abilities than those notaries from common law jurisdictions.  Louisiana notaries can draft sales, donations, transfers, wills, affidavits, and many other legal documents for the general public.  In the Parish of Orleans, notaries kept the official records of property transactions until the Clerk of Court began maintaining the records.  Attached is an article by Alejandro M. Garro that was published by The American College of Mortgage Attorneys, “The Role of the Notary in the Civil Law Tradition.”

What does real estate include?

What Does Real Estate Include?

Real estate is a huge part of a person’s life.  Most likely, a house is the largest single purchase for 99% of the population.  When you own real estate, you may have significant responsibilities – a mortgage payment, equity, property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, maintenance costs, IRS considerations, inheritance issues, ownership with a spouse, HOA and possibly MORE.  All of these may create even further responsibilities that connect property ownership with your life.

Factors to consider:

  • Estate planning or probate issues
  • Change in Life Circumstances
  • Ownership with Others- with or without children, ownership with others, whether or not having a spouse brings in inheritance issues, estate issues and legal issues
  • Leasing your property

If you have a legal issue or concern, contact us.  After listening carefully, we will honestly describe what we can do to help – or not.  But if it is something we cannot help you with, we can refer you to a qualified professional that we know will represent your best interest.

Spring Break Chaperone Guide

A Must Read Before Spring Break

Spring break is just around the corner, and many parents like you are excitedly planning activities and trips for their children and possibly their friends. Whether it’s a family vacation or a coordinated outing, chaperoning kids during spring break or any trip requires careful planning and attention to ensure their safety and well-being. In this newsletter, we will discuss some important tips and considerations for parents who will be chaperoning kids over spring break.

1: Safety First

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations will help you make informed decisions and avoid complications, even possible legal complications. This includes understanding age restrictions for certain activities, adhering to curfews, following traffic laws, and respecting cultural norms
  • Life jackets for water activities or appropriate safety gear for adventure sports
  • Set up a buddy system and encourage kids to stay with the group
  • Avoid scammers: scammers will pretend to deliver “cheap pizza” to get personal or credit card information or call hotel rooms asking for credit card info
  • Check the U.S. State Department website before you leave for specific travel warnings


2: Legal Considerations

  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations, this will help you make informed decisions and avoid potential legal complications or surprises. This includes understanding age restrictions for certain activities, adhering to curfews, following traffic laws, and respecting cultural norms
  • Chaperones are considered responsible for those in their care, custody and control. A chaperone may be held liable for any negligence or misconduct that may occur during the trip, depending on the facts and the situation. This includes situations where a child is injured, harmed, or involved in illegal activities. Understanding your legal responsibilities will help you navigate potential risks and take appropriate actions to prevent any legal issues. To protect yourself, you may wish to have each parent acknowledge these concerns and sign waivers (see the Ultimate Chaperone Guide which includes forms)


3: Emergency Protocols and Communication

  • Be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise – create a communication plan among chaperones, children, and parents in case of emergencies
  • Establish regular check-in times
  • Obtain copies of medical insurance cards and a limited medical power of attorney in case there is a medical emergency (see how to do this in the Ultimate Chaperone Guide)


4: Transportation

  • Check the credentials of drivers! Ensure that they have a valid driver’s license and insurance.
  • Adhere to traffic laws – speed limits, seat belts, and avoiding distracted driving


5: Behavior Management

  • Encourage a positive and inclusive environment while also setting clear expectations and boundaries for the children
  • Set clear rules and expectations at the beginning of the trip. It is easier when there is a united front from all parents, so ask parents to communicate rules to their kids before the trip.

Protecting yourself and kids during a spring break trip is of utmost importance.  By implementing these strategies we hope you feel knowledgeable and able to focus on your spring break stress-free.  🌴🌞✈️


If you haven’t seen it yet, check out The Ultimate Life Binder to get your life in order.