WHAT IS A SUCCESSION OR A PROBATE?
In Louisiana, Probate is called Successions. When a resident dies with assets, a Louisiana succession is necessary to transfer assets to the heirs.
Bernard F. Duhon has represented both executors and heirs in the succession process. The process involves submitting a will to the court, paying bills, and distributing assets to heirs. Bernard represents clients in succession litigation and monitors successions handled by other attorneys.
These are the things needed
to begin the succession proceedings:
- Death Certificate;
- Expenses of deceased’s last illness;
- Funeral expenses, including the funeral home, flowers, and headstone;
- Copy of the will, and have the location of the original;
- Number and location of a Safety deposit box;
- Copy of the pink slips or the titles to titled assets;
- Copies of the Deeds or location of all property;
- Copies of all bank statements for all accounts for the month of death;
- Copy of stock broker statements, annuities or similar investments;
- Copies of all stocks and bonds certificates;
- A list of all debts owed at the time of death;
- The full name, address and social security number of the surviving spouse and children;
- The full name, address and social security number of individuals named in the will;
- Copies of any insurance policies where the estate is named the beneficiary or if no beneficiary is named;
- Copies of all property tax notices, and
You should prepare a complete list of all assets with the value for each item.
After the information is collected and given to attorney he typically prepares a detailed list of all the assets and debts with values. The list is signed by the heirs. If there are no problems a petition is presented to the judge asking that the property and assets be taken out of the deceased’s name and placed into the heirs’ name.
This is usually uncontested. The attorney’s work can sometimes be done within a few weeks of receiving all the necessary documents from the family.
If there are absent heirs, dispute among the heirs or business to conduct, then the succession needs to be administered. This takes longer and costs increase. I avoid administering successions for my clients unless there is a special need.
Avoiding Probate (Successions)
The only way to avoid successions in Louisiana is to have no land in your name and the value of your assets when you die is less than $75,000.00.
- Living Trusts can be a means to avoid succession. All property is placed in a trust and upon the death of the grantor, the property passes to the named beneficiaries of the trust. Be careful! If property is not put in the trust, it will need to go through a succession. A Will may be needed to put all remaining property into the trust. If it is a revocable trust, you keep control over the property but don’t escape estate taxes nor is it Medicaid qualified. This means a lot of the problems associated with “Probate” must still be faced.
In Irrevocable trusts you have no control over the property but there may be less or no estate tax.
Trusts are not for everyone. You should carefully consult with your family lawyer before you make any decisions.
If the estate is less than 125,000.00 the succession may be done by affidavit. the cost are considerably less and the process quicker.