LEGAL CORNER: If I give birth to a baby while on a cruise, will - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

LEGAL CORNER: If I give birth to a baby while on a cruise, will there be unexpected costs?

(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)

Submit your questions to news@kplctv.com. Civil matters only, please.

QUESTION: My husband and I are thinking of taking a cruise. I am 30 weeks pregnant and we wanted to take the opportunity to relax and enjoy this time before our lives are changed by a new bundle of joy. While I believe there are medical doctors on the ship, if I deliver while on the cruise, should I be concerned about unexpected costs?

ANSWER: The price of a passage agreed to be paid by a woman, for going by sea from one country to another, shall not be increased in case the woman has a child during the voyage, whether her pregnancy was known or not by the master of the ship (LA Civil Code Art. 2753).

Be aware, however, that the cruise lines do have pregnancy policies in place, and most do not allow passengers who are farther along than 24 weeks. Be sure to confirm the policy with your cruise line at the time of booking as they are subject to change. https://www.cruisecompete.com/pressrelease010810.php

QUESTION: Will or Living Trust: What's Best for Me? I have worked hard and made every attempt to be a conscientious saver. I do not have a lot of money or property but I do want some control of my property after I die to ensure that my assets are distributed according to my wishes, in a timely fashion and without a lot of legal fees. I have heard about a living trust. What is a living trust anyway? And how does it differ from a will?

ANSWER: A will is a written document — signed and witnessed — that indicates how your property will be distributed at the time of your death. It is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during your lifetime. It also allows you to appoint a guardian for your minor children. When using a will, you continue to be the exclusive owner of your property and in full control of your property until you die. 

A living trust provides lifetime and after-death property management and controls who will be in control of your property. In a living trust, title to your property is transferred to the trustee and the property must be managed in accordance with the terms of the trust.  Most of the time, the creator of the trust also serves as the trustee.  If you are serving as your own trustee, the trust instrument will provide for a successor upon your death or incapacity. Court intervention is not required. Livings trusts also are used to manage property. If a person is disabled by accident or illness, the successor trustee can manage the trust property. As a result, the expense, publicity, and inconvenience of court-supervised distribution of your estate can be avoided.

If a living trust is properly written and funded you can: 1) Avoid probate on your assets. 2) Plan for the possibility of your own incapacity. 3) Control what happens to your property after you are gone. 4) Use it for any size estate. 5) Prevent your financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record.

While a trust sounds appealing, there are drawbacks. A living trust is more expensive to set up than a typical will because it must be actively managed after it is created. Most importantly, however, a living trust is useless unless it is funded. A living trust only can control those assets that have been placed into it. If your assets have not been transferred or if you die without funding the trust, the trust will be of no benefit as your estate will still be subject to probate and there may be significant estate tax issues. (Mary S. Yamin-Garone) (LA R.S.47§186 et seq Revocable trusts and LA R.S. 9:2401 Donations Mortis Causa). 

A third option is a testamentary trust that combines the features of both a will and a trust.  The Law Center advises that the viewer seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer before making estate plans.

QUESTION: Working in the medical profession here in Louisiana, there seems to a high number of breast cancer patients, especially in those communities where there are chemical plants. Is there a government office or organization that I can contact to ask about this?

ANSWER: Yes, there is - the Governor's Office on Women's Policy. One of the several duties of this office is to to collect facts and statistics and make special studies of conditions pertaining to the employment, health, safety, and financial status of women, and which otherwise affect the welfare of women and to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan to address the employment, health, safety, and financial status of women, and which otherwise affect the welfare of women. See our answer on the website for more information about this office along with contact information.

There is hereby created the Office on Women's Policy within the Office of the Governor.  The office shall exercise the powers and duties hereinafter set forth or otherwise provided by law.  The office shall be administered by an executive director who shall be appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the senate, to serve at his pleasure.  The executive director shall employ necessary staff to carry out the duties and functions of the office as provided in this chapter or as otherwise provided by law. LA R.S.46§2522.  Powers and duties: The office shall have the following powers and duties:

  • (1)  To collect facts and statistics and make special studies of conditions pertaining to the employment, health, safety, and financial status of women, and which otherwise affect the welfare of women.
  • (2)  To develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan to address the employment, health, safety, and financial status of women, and which otherwise affect the welfare of women.
  • (3)  To evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of programs that provide services to women.
  • (4)  To keep abreast of the latest developments concerning women in Louisiana and throughout the nation for public information and to advise state agencies.
  • (5)  To keep abreast of federal funds and other funding sources available for services and programs to women and to assist state departments and agencies in drafting plans to maximize use of such funds.
  • (6)  To provide technical assistance to the Women's Policy and Research Commission.
  • (7)  To maintain a current listing of public and private women's organizations and agencies throughout the state.
  • (8)  To maintain a current listing for the governor, other elected officials and nominating entities or officials, of women qualified to serve in administrative positions or on boards and commissions, which shall be circulated monthly to such elected and nominating officials.
  • (9)  To request data and assistance from state departments or agencies of the state related to the welfare of women.  When the office on women's policy requests a state department or agency to provide needed data or assistance, the department shall give priority to such request and shall provide such data or assistance as requested.  The office on women's policy shall maintain the confidentiality of any information or records provided to it, as required by laws relative to such records and information.
  • (10)  To perform the functions reasonably necessary to accomplish the purposes for which the office is created. (LA R.S. 46§2521.  Governor's office on women's policy) Contact: Dr. Shanta Proctor, Executive Director shanta.proctor@la.gov  (225)342-7015

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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