If you’ve read through more than one legal website, and I’m sure you have, you will get numerous answers that contradict each other. We get the question daily, “Do I need to hire an attorney to file a Louisiana succession?”
We get it often enough, in fact, that it has prompted me to author an article addressing this particular question.
If you’ve done any amount of research as to Louisiana probate laws, then you have likely come to the conclusion that Louisiana has very different laws compared to other states. What works in Texas or Mississippi, would not necessarily work in Louisiana. This is why we always recommend speaking with an attorney that specializes in succession law, whether it be our firm or another firm. A mistake in this realm could be costly and time consuming.
If you have been named as the executor of an estate, you probably have tons of questions: “Can I handle this myself? Who do I turn to if I file and have an issue later on? How much will all of this cost?” It’s difficult to anticipate what you will encounter when filing a succession in Louisiana as each situation is different and you have to know what you are doing to be successful. This is why we recommend turning to a lawyer with experience with how the court system works.
Now, you may have a situation as an executor where you do not need to even go to a law firm or even ask questions of a lawyer. This completely depends on your unique situation and understanding of how probate works in Louisiana. I’m not going to say everyone needs to hire an attorney, but the vast majority do.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself when determining whether you want to enlist the help of our law firm when dealing with a succession:
- Do you have the time required to handle the succession yourself and ensure all aspects are covered? There are numerous petitions, verifications, affidavits, judgments, etc. that you will need to file and that is assuming you don’t encounter issues or someone challenging the validity of the will.
- Do you live out of state and need to file a succession in Louisiana? Successions are already difficult, but even more so if you live outside of the state. If you try to handle it yourself, you may find yourself spending a small fortune driving back and forth trying to wrap up the estate properly.
- What type of assets did the deceased person own? Certain assets do not need to go through probate and can be transferred to the new owners without having to go to court. Do you know what these are and where to locate them? Probate is not needed for assets wherein the deceased named a beneficiary like a life insurance policy or retirement accounts.
- Estate Planning. Did the deceased do any estate planning to avoid probate before they died? There are actions a person can take before they die to avoid having to go through probate court in Louisiana.
- Size of estate. Is it a small succession? There are options for estates on the smaller side that do not involve court proceedings. They can be done outside of court and involve an affidavit of small succession. It’s possible you can handle these on your own, but will likely need the assistance of an attorney to ensure you did it correctly.
- Validity of the Will. Are there family members out there that may contest the will? This happens and can rip a family apart over money. If an angry family member mentions bringing a lawsuit against the estate, run to an attorney immediately! Probate lawsuits can spend every single penny from the estate if you aren’t careful. An attorney with great negotiating skills may be able to help keep it out of court.
- Does the estate contain complicated assets like a business? This can easily become a complex matter especially if the business has partners. There may have been an agreement that dictates what happens when one of them dies. Speak with an attorney to determine who gets what.
When in doubt, speak with a probate attorney that handles Louisiana matters. You don’t want to make a costly mistake. If you live in another state, you will still need to speak with a Louisiana succession attorney as our laws are different than any other state.
If you are an out of state heir or have been named executor of a Louisiana estate, please give us a call. We can speak with you without you having to drive across state lines. We’ve helped many clients all over the State of Louisiana as well as those from out of state.
This post is designed for informational purposes only and is not to be used to make legal decisions. You must speak with an attorney at our law firm about your specific legal situation. Communication through this site or through email does not constitute an attorney/client relationship.
Attorney R. Jerome Andries
Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys
Phone: (318) 269-5857
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