A succession gives heirs the legal right to possess property in Louisiana and is required to pass on certain types of property. Succession are needed whether there was a will (testate) or no will (intestate). They can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to a year to complete depending on the complexity and whether a party is fighting the succession.
Successions in Louisiana can be complicated. We have laws that can be difficult to understand and legal processes that seem to take forever. This article is intended to give instruction on how to prepare to hire an attorney for a succession.
The court will require you to compile a sizeable list of information before you can file a succession. It is a good idea to place these documents in a binder or box for when they are needed. Many of our clients have no idea what type of property their parents had or where to even begin looking. This is why it is important to place documents that you locate such as vehicle titles, insurance paperwork, life insurance, real estate records, bank documents and the Last Will & Testament in a safe place so that you can bring them to your lawyer who is preparing the succession.
Order Death Certificates
You may want to appoint someone in your family to help you take care of appropriate paperwork when you have just recently lost a loved one. Our firm must have original death certificates to submit to the court and you may also need one to collect on life insurance policies where you are the beneficiary. While you may not be ready to deal with this type of paperwork early on, keep in mind it could take a matter of weeks for you to receive them in the mail.
Locate the Original Will
Testate successions occurs when a person dies and leaves a will. Intestate successions are when the deceased did not leave a will. Heirs should do a search as soon as possible to find out whether the deceased left a will. They are usually found in safes, bank safe deposit boxes or even in a shoebox under the bed. Many times clients have no idea whether or not there was a will. Often, we will get far enough into the succession that it is time to file and a will appears and changes must be made to the petition. The courts usually require an original will to process a Louisiana succession, so if you locate it, put it in a safe place. It helps to have this information available before beginning the Louisiana succession process.
Compile a List of Owned Property and Values
The courts require what is known as a “Detailed Descriptive List” or DDL to be filed with the succession. This list will tell the judge all of the movable and immovable property the deceased owned in Louisiana. The property will need to be valued. Vehicles such as trucks, cars and Recreational Vehicles will need to have a VIN # as well. It helps to have the titles to the vehicles on hand or a spreadsheet. We will also need to know all of the real estate property owned by your family member. They may have had multiple properties in multiple parishes and we will need to know where they are located and be able to get a property description.
Determine who is to be the Administrator of the Succession Ahead of Time
If there was a Will, the executor will be named in that document. However, if there wasn’t a valid Louisiana Last Will & Testament, an administrator must be named by the court. In most cases, there is one family member that is chosen by the others. Usually, everyone agrees on the individual that is to carry out the task of wrapping up the estate and making sure everything goes according to plan. However, there have been instances where fighting and bickering occurs when discussing who is to be named the administrator. Choosing this person ahead of time will save a lot of trouble in the long run.
Write Down Information on Deceased
In order to complete the succession, our firm will need to know some basic information on the deceased such as: marriages/divorces, correct legal spelling of name, etc. You will have to bring in two (2) people to attest to this information.
Get Two (2) People Who Knew Deceased to Sign Affidavits
Louisiana successions require two (2) people to sign an affidavit known as the “Death, Domicile and Heirship.” This document tells the court when the family member died, where he/she lived, whether they died testate or intestate, children, marriages, etc. It helps to know in advance who will be able to come by our office to sign these documents. If you live out of state and are doing a succession on a family member who lived in Louisiana; we can create the documents for you and allow you to sign them in front of a Notary Public in your area.
This covers the majority of the information we will need to begin the succession. I encourage you to not put off the process and begin gathering information as soon as you are able. Problems can arise when successions remain uncompleted.
This Louisiana succession article was written for informational purposes only. Do not use this article to make important legal decisions. Instead, contact our offices with any questions you may have about your specific legal situation. Nothing in this website itself constitutes an attorney/client relationship.
“We help clients with succession and estate matters all over the State of Louisiana.”
Please give Attorney R. Jerome Andries a call at (318) 229 1608 to discuss any questions you may have regarding Louisiana Successions.
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Offices located in Alexandria, Louisiana, but we handle matters all over the state and are more than happy to help out of state clients file successions in Louisiana.