You may be anxious to settle a family member’s estate after he or she has passed away, but you will have to go through the succession process in civil court first. Find out what is involved in the process and when you should hire a Louisiana succession attorney to help you.
What Is Succession?
Called probate in other states, succession is the process of filing documents with the court so that assets can be transferred from someone who has passed away to their heirs. In Louisiana, almost every estate—no matter how small—will have to go through succession, even if there is a valid Last Will and Testament.
In some cases, the process is simple, but in other cases, it can get very complicated very quickly. In all but the simplest situations, you should work with a succession attorney to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible and that, as an heir, your rights are protected.
How do you know what kind of an estate you’re dealing with? Call our office for a Quick Estate Evaluation™. We will ask you a few questions to quickly determine if a succession is necessary and if you need an attorney to help you.
Understanding the Succession Process
While there is no time limit on opening a succession after a person’s death, you will want to start the process as soon as possible. Because the deceased’s assets will be frozen until the completion of the succession process, debts cannot be paid and could continue to grow. Also, heirs will not receive their inheritance until the process is complete, and a judgment of possession has been issued.
When a loved one has died, the best way to get the ball rolling on the succession process is to locate the following information:
- The original Last Will & Testament, if one existed
- The name of the executor named in the testament
- A list of heirs
- An accounting of assets
- Debts owed by the decedent
- Bills, bank statements, and receipts that arrive after death
An attorney can help you collect this information if it is not easy to locate. If you are the executor of the estate, speaking to a succession lawyer as soon as possible could save you a lot of trouble throughout the process.
What Can Go Wrong During a Succession?
During the succession process, the court will determine the validity of the testament, confirm the legitimacy of heirs, oversee the paying of debts, value the remaining assets, and ultimately transfer the assets. If there is a problem at any of these stages, the process will stop until the problem is resolved. Common problems that arise in many families include:
- More than one testament exists and an heir questions the legitimacy of the most recent version.
- An heir is living in the decedent’s house and won’t move out so it can be sold.
- The executor is not performing his duties or is abusing his power.
- A family member was left out of the testament and feels they should have been included.
- There are conflicts over second marriages, step-children, or dysfunctional family members.
Sometimes, these disputes have to be litigated in court in order to come to a resolution. If this happens, you want an experienced succession litigator on your side. Whether you need to challenge a testament, stop the actions of an executor, enforce your inheritance rights, or force the sale of estate property, you need an attorney to represent your interests in court. If you are trying to force the closure of an estate that has been ongoing for months or even years, our team can get to the bottom of the issue to close the estate.
Our Estate & Probate Division Is Here to Help
Our succession and probate team has helped hundreds of families in New Orleans and surrounding parishes with succession issues, so we have probably seen and dealt with the situation you are facing. Let our experience work for you to make the probate process as easy and cost-effective as possible. Contact us in our New Orleans office to get started down the right path today.