Tag: Louisiana intestate law

Do I Need to Hire a Probate Attorney for a Louisiana Succession?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

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

Out of State Heirs That Need Help With a Louisiana Succession

If you have found this article, chances are you live outside of Louisiana and need help with a Louisiana based Succession. Maybe you have a parent or sibling that died in Louisiana or owned real estate here and you need help wrapping up their final estate. Problem is you live a few states away and have zero contacts in the State of Louisiana.

We help individuals living in other states file various types of successions in Louisiana, sometimes without even having to step foot in the state. We understand how difficult it can be learning a family member has passed away and you are a few states away and unsure of where to turn to for help. You could spend a small fortune driving back and forth to lawyer’s offices across states, or you can speak with us about handling the succession over the phone and we can come up with a plan that will save you time and money in the long run.

There are a number of processes our Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning law firm uses to assist out of state clients handle their family members’ estates and successions. I’ll give you a quick run-down of how we do it:

  1. Initial Consultation. We set up an appointment to speak with you over the phone to get a better understanding of your situation. There are never “cookie-cutter” solutions to Louisiana successions, every scenario is different and unique. During this phone conference, we gather the appropriate information regarding your family member’s estate and formulate a plan for you to begin the process. We can even take payments over the phone or you can mail your payment.
  2. Determine whether there was a valid Louisiana Last Will and Testament. If there was a will, we will need to locate the original to submit to the court. If there was not a will, we will go over and explain Louisiana’s intestate law with you and advise you of your options.
  3. Draft Petitions, Verifications, Court Orders and Other Related Matters. There are numerous petitions and documents that must be submitted to the court to satisfy Louisiana succession laws.
  4. Locate and Describe Property and Real Estate. This part can be time consuming as we must describe and value the property of the estate. It can be especially difficult if you are unsure of what your family member owned at the time of his/her death, but we can walk you through the steps to locating them. If there was a valid Louisiana Last Will and Testament naming you the executor of the estate, we can petition the court to have you recognized as the executor and issue Letters of Independent Administration to assist you in locating various bank accounts and insurance policies that you may be entitled to.
  5. Mail Documents For You to Verify and Sign. We will mail through certified mail all documents related to the Louisiana succession. The verifications must be signed in front of a Notary Public, but you can find one in your area and have them execute it. Next, you will mail the originals back to our office to process.
  6. File with Proper District Court. The succession must be filed in the Parish where your family member was domiciled (lived) at the time of his/her death. If they did not live in Louisiana, but owned real estate in the state, then the succession will be filed in that Parish.
  7. Wait for Judge to Sign. Once we complete the succession paperwork and receive all signatures and file with the proper District Court, we just have to wait for the Judge assigned to the matter to sign and execute the documents.
  8. Close the Succession.

As you can see, a Louisiana succession is not an easy matter to complete. There are numerous steps and laws to follow. You do not want to miss a single step as it could prolong getting the Judgment of Possession signed and cost you more time and money. Being a few states away, this can cause more stress and anxiety than it has to.

If you are an out of state heir or just have questions regarding a Louisiana succession, please don’t hesitate to call our office. We’ve helped numerous out of state clients with successions all over the State of Louisiana and we would be happy to assist you as well.

This legal article is meant for informational purposes only. It is not to be used solely to make legal decisions. You should speak with an attorney at our law firm regarding your specific situation. Communication through this website does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Attorney R. Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

 

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

How Do I Find Out What Life Insurance Policies or Bank Accounts a Deceased Person Owned?

This is a common concern among many of our Louisiana succession clients. When a person dies, the family is left with the task of locating life insurance policies and bank accounts. It can be a white knuckle experience as those left behind search for money to help them get back on their feet, especially if the deceased was the primary breadwinner and left behind young children. A question we get often is “How do we know what accounts or life insurance policies they had?”

While there is no sure way to know for sure without some digging, (there is no registry for these accounts), there are a few ways you can begin your search.

First, let’s talk about one way to find accounts that will take a great deal of leg work, but can be a fruitful endeavor. Let’s run an example: Mom died and left behind a last will and testament in Louisiana, naming Daughter as the executor of her estate. The other children are asking about other accounts that Mom may have owned and each gives stories about going to the such and such bank with her to make deposits. Daughter comes to our law firm and we set her up with paperwork to get her confirmed as the executor of Mom’s estate through the court system. The court then issues certified copies of what is called “Letters of Independent Executorship.” This gives Daughter the power to go to financial institutions where she believes Mom had accounts and do a search. The institutions she visits will then be able to disclose to Daughter account information upon presentation of the Letters of Independent Executorship.

If you live in a small town with few banks, your search may not take long. However, larger cities could have you searching for days.

Another thing you can do is check their mail. Statements usually come monthly, so you could theoretically locate the bank account information that way. If Mom set up her account to receive her statements electronically, you may have a harder time unless you know her email password. Also, go back and find her tax returns from years back. There’s a good chance you can find helpful information there. Many tax returns are deposited by direct deposit. You may not find the exact account number, but at least you may find out which bank she used. You can then bring your Letters of Executorship that our firm assisted you with and take it to the bank manager to help you locate the accounts.

While there may not be a central registry where you can inquire about property and assets owned by a deceased family member, there are numerous ways you can search to locate bank accounts and life insurance policies owned by the deceased. Our Louisiana estate planning and succession law firm can assist you with this process and show you the direction to take.

Also, keep in mind that this situation can be avoided if you come see us during your lifetime and create an inventory of property and assets and give your chosen executor of your estate or a trusted family member access to this information. This will help them wrap up your estate and put heirs in possession of your property much more efficiently as opposed to having them search all over town and potentially miss something. If you paid for an account, you definitely want your family to have the benefit of those funds and not let them go to waste in a bank account.

Come see us at the Andries Law Firm and we will set you up with an estate plan that will alleviate many problems in the future. If you have just lost a loved one and have questions about succession law, please give us a call and tell us your story.

This post was written for informational uses only and should not be used as legal advice. Reading articles on this Louisiana Succession Law website does not form an attorney/client relationship with the Andries Law Firm. Please contact our office with any questions you may have regarding Louisiana Successions Estate Planning before using any information contained on this website as the laws are complex and change often. Do not base important legal decisions on articles contained herein, but instead, give us a call to walk you through the process.

Attorney Jerome Andries

Andries Law Firm

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

 

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