Frequently Asked Questions

The Shreveport, Louisiana attorneys of the Pesnell Law Firm want you to know the answer to these commonly asked questions.


Commercial Law

Family Law

Probate and Succession

What is environmental law?

Environmental law is a very broad area consisting of federal and state statutes and regulations. Its purpose is to prevent and cleanup of pollution/contamination of natural resources including the ground, water, and air. It is controlled by federal and state governmental agencies. These include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state agencies, such as the Louisiana Department Environmental Quality which administers a large body of federal laws and regulations.

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What kind of actions can be brought for environmental harm?

Several federal environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (CERCLA), can force the cleanup of environmental contamination. Lawsuits are brought on behalf of the government and are restricted to enforcement of either state or federal environmental laws or regulations.

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How do I conduct a lien search in Louisiana?

You must contact any of the 64 Parish Clerks of Court. They have access into the statewide UCC database and will reflect statewide lien information for the debtor.

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What is the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)?

RESPA is a federal regulation that governs certain aspects of the closing and settlement process in real estate transactions. Designed to protect consumers who are buying houses, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) enforces RESPA. RESPA requires that buyers be given certain information at various points during the purchase process, and outlaws kickbacks that might increase the costs of closing and settlement.

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What does the court consider when deciding child custody?

The courts use the best interest of the child test which can vary somewhat by jurisdiction. Most courts consider a positive living environment and the fitness of the parents in providing adequate care to the child such as food, clothing, shelter, and education. There are several forms of custody, commonly sole, joint and legal.

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What does it mean to be divorced?

You must first file a complaint at the courthouse as with any civil lawsuit. The rules about what needs to be included in the complaint and how the complaint must be served on your spouse are complicated and are best handled by a knowledgeable attorney. Once a judge has signed a dissolution of marriage declaring that you are no longer legally married, you are no longer responsible for your spouse's actions or debts.

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What happens to property when someone dies?

Community property is usually property accumulated by a couple while they are married (unless there is a marriage contract). Separate property is defined as property owned before marriage, inherited property, or property given to one of the spouses. Usually, a spouse does not inherit separate property. Also, a spouse does not inherit community property unless there are no children of the marriage.

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Does all property have to go through probate?

Not all property has to go through probate. There are some forms of property that are not considered part of your estate in Louisiana. Any retirement asset, like an IRA or 401(k), does not have to go through probate and is not be subject to Louisiana's inheritance tax. You should always have alternate beneficiaries named on the account of your asset. If you name only your spouse and both of you die, the asset must go through probate. Life insurance does not go through probate as long as there is a living named beneficiary.

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Knowledge you can trust

When you need answers from an experienced Louisiana law firm with integrity you can trust, the Pesnell Law Firm will answer your questions at 318 226-5577 or contact us online.

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Our Office

  • Shreveport Office


    400 Travis Street
    Suite 1100
    Shreveport, Louisiana 71101