Month: February 2019

How Long Do I Have to File a Succession in Louisiana?

If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering how long you can wait to file a Louisiana Succession. Maybe you just lost someone close to you and you can’t bear to even think about it, or your loved one passed away many years ago. Either way, we’re here to help.

You can file a succession at any point, however, it gets more difficult the longer you wait. Our Louisiana succession law firm has helped people file as early as the week after, as well as years after death.

I can tell you from experience, if you wait too long, money will get spent and property will deteriorate. We’ve done successions where we were tasked with putting a value on livestock that had died years prior and vehicles that had been diminished to rust buckets. It’s also difficult to track down bank accounts and life insurance policies at that point. People forget where things are and they end up sitting there for years and sometimes even decades before a succession is opened to put heirs into possession.

Do you have to file a succession as soon as the person dies? No, you do not. Sometimes it’s best to mourn and wait a while before dealing with the succession issues. I’ve had clients call me from the funeral to ask questions. Don’t do that. Spend time with your family and get closure. Our business can wait.

You can put someone in charge of dealing with and tying up loose ends. Most Louisiana Wills name an executor of the estate and their task is to wrap up the succession issues and make sure everything is handled properly. They are also the ones that are responsible for hiring the attorneys and getting legal representation for the estate. If this happens to be you, we can walk you through the process that you need to complete in order to wrap up the succession the quickest and easiest way possible.

How Long Does it Take to Complete A Succession?

It’s hard to tell exactly how long it will take to open a succession, file the appropriate paperwork and close the succession with a signed Judgment of Possession from the Judge. If we have everything we need and don’t have to search for items or heirs, we can usually get it complete in a matter of weeks. Remember, a portion of that time has to do with tracking things down and with the judge assigned to the matter and how long it takes their office to process the succession paperwork.

On the other hand, we’ve had successions that took nearly a year to complete due to extenuating circumstances such as community property that wasn’t dealt with before the individual passed away, missing property and other issues.

If you’re still in the estate planning process, be sure to let others know where certain properties and documents are. We usually recommend keeping a detailed binder in a safe place that lists items and where to find them. If you have named an executor in your will, be sure they have what they need to complete the job and don’t have to spend months searching. I’ve had executors come to me that had no idea where to find a single item. We were able to help, but it took much longer than it would have had they been provided with more detailed information regarding the estate.

If you need help with a Louisiana succession or are an out of state heir and have questions, just let us know! We’ve helped many families with their successions and would be happy to help you as well.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Contacting or reading the website does not form an attorney/client relationship with the law firm. It’s important that you contact our office with any questions regarding Louisiana successions as the laws are complex and continually changing. It is important that you do not base any legal decisions on articles contained on this website.

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

Similar Louisiana Succession Law Articles:

Do I need to Hire a Probate Attorney?How to Find out What Accounts a Deceased Individual HadHow Long Do I Have to File a Succession in Louisiana?What Happens When a Spouse Dies Without a Will?, Louisiana Usufruct Law

 

What Happens When One Spouse Dies Without A Will (Intestate) In Louisiana?

This is an unfortunate scenario that plays out all too often. First, let’s explain what “intestate” means. Simply put, it means you died without a Last Will and Testament in place. Louisiana has a specific set of rules that come into play in the event you do not execute a valid Louisiana Will. These rules will determine who gets your property. The rules are not always favorable to the surviving spouse, nor are they always what you would have wanted.

In the majority of succession cases we deal with where one party dies without a will, the surviving spouse comes to see us to explain their rights to the property. It’s a hard pill to swallow when we explain that they technically only own their ½ of the community property in full ownership, but the kicker is the deceased spouse’s ½. If you have children, that actually goes to them in naked ownership, with the surviving spouse having usufruct. That sounds fine until you understand the Louisiana term “usufruct” and what it means for your property ownership. Usufruct in Louisiana is the “use” of the property. You have to give it to the naked owners when your usufruct expires. The law states that usufruct expires when you die or remarry, whichever comes first. You CAN have a usufruct for life, regardless of whether you remarry, but that MUST be set up before the owner of the property dies. This is usually done in the form of a Louisiana Will that gives a “Lifetime Usufruct” to the individual.

Let’s say in our example Mom died without a will, leaving Dad to live in the home by himself. They had children, some his, some hers from a previous marriage. Everything is fine until Dad decides to remarry.

This is where most problems arise. You see, Dad only owns ½ of the marital home outright, he has usufruct of the other ½ that was owned by his deceased wife. Usufruct only gives Dad the “use” of the property until he dies or remarries, whichever happens first.

In this scenario, Dad is remarrying, thus his usufruct will expire and he no longer has “use” of her ½ of the property.

What happens now? Well, a few things can happen. The children can reclaim their inheritance from their Mom in full ownership and kick Dad out of the home on the day he marries Step-Mom. (It’s usually the step-children that do this, but we see it with blood related children as well).

The other option is the children can donate their inheritance back to Dad and he will own the property in full ownership. BUT, they don’t have to.

The biggest issue we see in estate and succession work at our office is when a new person (step-parent) is introduced into the picture. This creates a certain level of anger and sometimes hatred towards the surviving parent.

Adult children will say things like: “Dad, we were ok with everything until you decided to get remarried to HER! We don’t want her (Step-Mom) living in Mom’s home with you.” Or, the step-children whom never really cared for Dad will step forward and reclaim their inheritance as soon as he remarries.

This is their right under the law of usufruct in Louisiana. There are ways to avoid this happening by establishing an estate plan that outlines who inherits your property when you die. This is usually accomplished by a Louisiana Last Will and Testament in one of two ways:

  1. You give your partner the property in FULL OWNERSHIP. This will allow them to own the property and not have to worry about a thing after you die. Keep in mind, when your partner dies, the property will stay in his/her lineage. This means your ½ of the community property will go to your partner’s family when they die. If this is not your desire, then;
  2. You give your partner a LIFETIME USUFRUCT. A lifetime usufruct will allow your surviving partner to remain and use the home until they die, whether they get remarried or not. At that point, the property will revert back to your lineage and your children can have it. This is what most people do as they want their spouse to enjoy and use the property, but want it to eventually go back to their heirs at a later date.

Remember, once you die, you cannot come back to tell us what you wanted to do with your property! These situations are much easier to fix on the front end and our firm can execute a few documents to ensure your wishes are carried out and your spouse isn’t kicked out of the family home.

If you are located anywhere in Louisiana and need help with a matter such as this, feel free to give my law firm a call and we’ll discuss a plan that will take care of your needs without breaking the bank.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Nor, does it form an attorney/client relationship with the Law Firm. Laws change often and it is important that you contact our office to speak with an attorney before making any decisions based on articles contained on this website.

 

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

 

How to Transfer Louisiana Succession Property in More than one Parish

It’s fairly common for an individual to own property in multiple parishes. A question we get asked often is “What do you do if someone owns property all over the state?”

We get this scenario often. Here’s a quick example of how this usually plays out: Decedent lived and died in Rapides Parish, but owned real estate property in Avoyelles Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, St. Tammany Parish and so on. He left behind a number of heirs and named his daughter as the executor of his Will to handle his succession matters. Now her job is to have the property in each parish transferred into the children’s name per his wishes, but he has property scattered all over Louisiana.

It sounds like a daunting task, but we can walk you through the procedure to get property from other parishes in Louisiana transferred to heirs without painstakingly traveling to each individual parish.

First things first, we open the Louisiana Succession (Testate or Intestate):

  1. Open Succession. A Louisiana Succession must be opened in the parish where the deceased was domiciled at the time of his death. Domicile can thought of as your home, or the parish you consider your permanent place of residence. This can be confusing when you have an individual that had multiple homes. We use the one they intended to stay and use as their home. It does not matter that the deceased may have had real estate in multiple parishes, you must file the succession in the parish where the deceased was domiciled. All pleadings related to the succession must be filed in the Succession suit record in the district court where the individual was domiciled, no matter how much property the deceased had in other parishes. This includes all court petitions relating to the succession, descriptive list of all assets and debts, court documents, orders and judgments.
  2. A Judgment of Possession must be signed by the judge: Once the succession is filed in the proper court and everything is submitted, the district court judge in the parish where the deceased was domiciled will look at the documents and sign a court order known as a Judgment of Possession. Our office will prepare and send this with the petitions and verifications. Once the judgment is signed, the Clerk will send certified copies to our law firm for processing. We request multiples in the event the decedent owned property in multiple parishes.
  3. We Record Judgment of Possession in All Parish Where Real Estate is Owned. Our office will take the certified copies of the Judgment of Possession that the court sends and record them in the conveyance records in each parish where the deceased owned immovable property (real estate). This puts third parties on notice that property has been transferred to the heirs and helps avoid any confusion further down the road.

 

It can be time consuming and expensive, but this is what the law states must be done when someone dies in Louisiana and owns property in multiple parishes. However, if you own property in multiple STATES, a Louisiana Succession will not transfer the property to heirs. You will have to hire an attorney in each state wherein real estate property is located. Many people want to avoid this and choose to set up a Living Trust so that probate proceedings are not required after death. This will transfer property in multiple states to the Trust.

If you have questions about a Louisiana Succession or Trust, give us a call at (318) 229-1608.

This article is for information purposes only and does not provide legal advice, nor does it form an attorney/client relationship.

 

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorney

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

How to Get Confirmed as the Executor of a Louisiana Succession

There are a handful of steps required to get an executor of a Succession in Louisiana confirmed. It’s important to follow the law and make sure you don’t miss anything. Once the Judge signs and the executor is confirmed by the court, he/she can then access bank accounts, sell assets and real property and be able to handle other aspects of the estate.

Executor of a succession is an important job and whoever named you in their will must have had faith that you would handle their business after they passed. Some look at it as an honor, others a burden they did not ask for, but we’re here to help you through the process.

An executor of a succession is normally named in the Will, however, just because you are named as the executor does not give you the power to act. Not just yet. You must first go through the process and submit to the court to be confirmed.

This checklist does not substitute for legal advice, nor do we suggest you attempt it on your own. A mistake can cost you drastically and can delay the succession. We recommend calling us and scheduling an appointment, this is just for reference and to let you know what to expect.

  1. Gather the original Last Will and Testament of the deceased. It must be the one that was signed and names the executor to the succession. We will need to submit the original to the court for probate;
  2. Petition to probate the Last Will and Testament and Confirmation of Independent Executrix;
  3. Plaintiff verifications must be signed and notarized;
  4. Affidavit of Death, Domicile and Heirship is prepared and signed by two (2) people who knew the deceased. This is just proof that the individual is actually deceased and that there is a will;
  5. The executor signs the Oath which states they swear to perform their duties as Executor or Executrix of the succession. This is done in front of a notary as well;
  6. Our firm will prepare Letters of Executorship that will go to the clerk of court for signature. You, as the executor, will need certified copies to handle things such as banking.

We gather this information from you and compile it into a packet to send to the court for signatures. Don’t hold your breath on this part, it could take weeks. Sometimes the court system gets backed up and it takes time for the paperwork to go from the Clerk’s office to the Judge’s office where he/she will have to check for accuracy before signing. We will give you updates as to the progress at any point of the succession work.

Once you have the certified copies of the Letters of Executorship, you are ready to handle estate matters.

Call us for any questions you may have and we will gladly walk you through the process!

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Using this site or communicating with Andries Law Firm, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Jerome Andries
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.AndriesLawFirm.com
Phone: (318) 229-1608

How Much Does a Succession Cost in Louisiana?

This is a question we get often and it’s not easy to answer, but I’ll try.

Succession costs vary immensely depending on the complexity of the situation and what type of legal representation is involved. You will encounter a number of fees when filing a succession in Louisiana including, but not limited to: attorney fees, court filing fees, real estate fees, accounting fees and fees for the executor of the estate. It’s difficult to assess these fees until we hear your particular story as they vary widely from case to case.

There are different ways that attorneys get paid to handle Louisiana successions.

First, you have traditional payment arrangements that go by the attorney’s hourly rate. This is the way the legal business has handled legal fees since the beginning. Many clients cannot afford to hire an attorney this way because the legal fees are unknown with hourly billing. It’s hard to tell up front how much you will end up paying your attorney because he/she doesn’t know what they will encounter. You pay for every phone call, email, letter to opposing attorney, legal advice and discussions. This can add up! Clients get gun shy about calling their own attorney to ask questions out of fear of being charged the hourly rate.

Louisiana does not have a specific fee schedule set by lawmakers. Law firms are open to charge basically any way they choose, including percentage based. A small percentage of firms charge for successions based on the amount of assets in the estate. These fee arrangements are rare and I would recommend using caution if you ever encounter one.

The other and arguably best option for clients is “flat rate” billing. This is a more economical way to pay for attorney services. We use this often at the Andries Law Firm because it benefits our clients. We charge you a one-time fee to handle the succession from beginning to end. That means we answer your phone calls, emails and set up appointments any time you have questions or need to discuss the legal matter at hand without charging you additional hourly rates.

With that being said, there are different amounts charged even with a flat rate agreement. If all heirs agree and the property is easy to find; you could be looking at a rate of $1,250-$3,500 plus court costs. Court costs for Louisiana successions can range from $250 to $500 depending on parish. If any issues are apparent or litigation is necessary, the cost could easily go higher.

The best way to get an estimate on legal fees for a succession is to schedule an appointment with our attorney at (318) 229-1608 or email Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com.

How Long Does The Succession (Probate) Process Take in Louisiana?

Short answer: it depends.

We’ve successfully completed Louisiana successions in a matter of weeks, but the average time will be two to nine months to get everything wrapped up and signed with the court. There are numerous factors that go into filing a succession in Louisiana and any one of them can lead to an issue that holds up the succession process.

What is a succession? A Louisiana succession is the transmission of the estate of the deceased to his/her successors. The succession process is also known as probate and is overseen by the court. The successors have the right to take possession of the estate of the deceased once they have complied with Louisiana succession law. There are two main types of successions: testate (with a will) and intestate (no will). You can read more about the differences HERE.

What is the succession process?

First, a petition must be filed with the court to open the succession. The filings must include the Last Will and Testament (if one exists), an original death certificate and the required affidavits in order to comply with Louisiana probate law. You want to make sure ALL of the Louisiana succession rules are followed or you risk the succession taking even longer to complete and costing more in legal fees.

Next, the property of the individual must be listed in a detailed descriptive list. The property must be described fully and valued. This part of the succession normally takes the longest because many people have property spread out over the state of Louisiana and other states. Each item must be located and added to the succession petition. This includes movables such as vehicles, as well as immovables. This could also determine which parish in Louisiana the succession will be filed. Read this article on “In what parish do I file a Louisiana succession” to learn more about where to file a succession.

Lastly, the petition to close the succession must be filed. This is usually in the form of a Judgement of Possession. If everything has been submitted correctly and no one has stepped forward to contest the succession such as the validity of the will, the judge will then sign the judgment and place successors into possession of the assets. This will close the succession.

If the property of the deceased is known and the heirs agree to accept the succession without fighting, the process can be completed in a few weeks. A more complex Louisiana succession may take months or longer to complete, especially if litigation is involved. On average, we inform clients it will take two to nine months.

A dispute between heirs can be one of the hardest things a family can go through. It can cause financial consequences and make communication difficult. Unfortunately, we see this a lot. Many disputes can be worked out, but some cannot and require expensive litigation. An example is when a party brings an action to invalidate the will. This can considerably add to the expense and time involved with a Louisiana succession.

At the Andries Law Firm, we help families with their succession matters as efficiently as possible. We understand how difficult this situation can be for you, both financially and emotionally. It’s tough to put the pieces together when you’ve just lost a loved one. Our attorneys can help you manage the situation and direct you on what steps need to be taken to protect and care for your loved ones. Call us for a consultation at (318) 229-1608 or email Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Using this site or communicating with Andries Law Firm, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

R. Jerome Andries
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.AndriesLawFirm.com
Phone: (318) 229-1608

 

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