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Should I Hire a Notary or an Attorney to Do a Succession in Louisiana?

We get calls daily asking if they should pay a Notary to do their succession in Louisiana. You may not want to tackle the legwork of a succession after losing a loved one. Most people rely on professionals that know how to handle succession matters. Hiring a professional is the best way to ensure there are no succession issues or costly mistakes. 

You may find yourself trying to decide between hiring an attorney or using a notary public’s services to assist with your succession. It’s important to know the difference between the two before making a hiring decision. 

Notary publics in Louisiana aren’t attorneys, but must pass a test to prove they know a certain level of the law. They must be proficient in some matters such as witnessing signatures on legal contracts, transactional matters and more. Many of them can help clients with small successions, affidavits and other documents. 

However, it’s important to note that a notary public cannot represent you in court. They also cannot give legal advice or give your family options for the successions. They can only help with the paperwork and that’s it. If they make a mistake on your succession, they cannot do much to fix the issue as they cannot practice law or represent you in court. 

Here’s a list of functions a notary public cannot do, but a lawyer can: 

  1. Represent clients in court
  2. Give legal advice
  3. Provide succession options 
  4. Give your family their legal opinion on your situation. 

Lawyers are able to do all these things and more when it comes to succession matters. A common problem we see with clients using notary publics for succession is there is often a problem with the succession that the notary can no longer help with. 

A perfect example is when a family hires a notary to do a small succession affidavit, but they later discover that the affidavit is not what they need. The notary public is then unable to assist further and you don’t get your money back. 

We were recently contacted by a family that was searching for a succession attorney in Alexandria, Louisiana. They had hired a notary to draft a small succession affidavit. The affidavit was done correctly, but the family found out later that they needed to open an estate account to deposit checks. 

The small succession affidavit did not grant the family authority to open bank accounts. They instead needed to go through the court system to get Letters of Administration. The family ended up paying a notary public a non-refundable fee and then had to hire us to fix the situation. 

Our firm then drafted the required documents to submit to the court and was able to get the Letters of Administration that they needed to handle the estate matters.

We had another client that had a notary draft a small succession affidavit but the property was valued far above the $125k threshold. It wasn’t the notary’s fault, but they needed the help of an attorney to layout different succession options and ended up having to go through the court system and lose their fees paid to the notary and filing fees. 

We get clients every single week that were told that all they needed to do was get a notary to draft the small succession affidavit paperwork and file it, but later discovered that paperwork was worthless as they needed a judge to oversee the succession. 

Louisiana’s small succession affidavit is only available in limited situations and you need to speak with an attorney to see if it fits your type of situation. The last thing you want to do is pay someone to draft the incorrect documents and have to start over when money may already be tight. 

The Andries Law Firm has handled small and large successions in every parish in Louisiana and we are happy to speak with you regarding your loved one’s succession. 

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