New Rules for Charitable Gifts

The deduction for a charitable gift of movable property, like boats and cars, has changed drastically in recent years. You used to be able to deduct the fair market value of your gift, like the Blue Book value in the case of automobiles.

But things have changed. You now can only deduct the value of whatever the charity gets when they sell your gift. And if they don’t plan on selling your gift? Then there has to be a full explanation of how the charity plans to use your gift and how values were determined.

The Paperwork.
When you donate cars, boats or other movable property valued between $500 and $5,000, you must file IRS Form 8283 for tax deductions. In that form, you have to describe the condition of the property and how the value was arrived at.

You also need a receipt from the charity, along with written documentation indicating whether the property will be sold or used by the organization. Deductions of more than $5,000 require written appraisals. And, you have to keep track of the receipts and other documents for any IRS audit.

New smoke alarms required

A new law effective last year requires 10-year smoke alarms in all single and duplex dwellings. The new requirement mandates that all smoke alarms in new dwellings and in existing dwellings that are for sale be equipped with lithium batteries designed to last ten or more years.The law applies to single family dwellings and to […]


Legal Documents: be careful

Mr “E” filed for a divorce. While the divorce was pending, he entered into a property settlement with Mrs. “E” and went to Mrs. E’s lawyer’s office to sign a donation of his interest in their home to his wife. In essence, he signed an authentic act (notary and two witnesses) making his wife the […]


Joint Wills are Null in Louisiana

I think most lawyers in Louisiana run into this problem: husband and wife want to do a “joint” will leaving everything to each other. When they are told they cannot do a joint will, they become suspicious that perhaps the lawyer is just trying to inflate the price by charging for two wills instead of […]


Divorce trumped by beneficiary form

It happens all the time: someone gets divorced but does not think to change the beneficiary of their life insurance and other benefits. Louisiana has some specific laws governing what happens when someone divorces but still has the ex listed as their beneficiary on their insurance forms. Did they just forget to take the ex […]


National Estate Planning Week

October 15-21 is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. And, of course, there are numerous articles on the subject that have just come out. Some are good, some so-so, and some totally miss the mark. That is especially the case for residents of Louisiana where our laws deviate from the other 49 states in significant ways. […]


Bloated Law Books

The Louisiana statutes suffer from Extreme Bloat. The Code Napoleon was intended to contain all the laws in one volume so that the citizens of Louisiana could know what is expected of them. From our state, to Washington and all the regulatory agencies, it is now possible to run afoul of the law almost daily […]


The Legal Perils of Posting Reviews

Are you opening a can of worms by posting an unfavorable review? We are all tempted to “get back” at companies or people we feel treated us unfairly. The trouble is, it has become all too easy to post on sites like Angie’s List or Yelp without thinking through the possible legal ramifications. The fact […]


Estate planning: include your kids

We see it all the time: parents need to talk about their mortality with their adult kids, but never find the right opportunity. A new study from Fidelity Investments confirms what we have always known: there is a huge disconnect between what adult kids believe and what their parents believe. Adult children and their parents recognize […]


Constitutional Amendments

Citizens of Louisiana will face an array of confusing amendments to the state Constitution on Tuesday. There are nine proposed amendments, some of which don’t make much sense while at least one does the opposite of what it seems. The best summary I have seen of the amendments and what the results of voting for […]