Baton Rouge Succession Lawyer
Trustworthy Attorney for Succession & Estate Planning Matters in Louisiana
Failing to create a viable estate plan through the use of a will or a trust will trigger a process of mandatory, state-regulated property distribution known as intestate succession. Due to the impersonality of the government, it is highly unlikely that succession will yield the results you desire and loved ones could be left struggling to make ends meet due to a lack of intended inheritance.
What is Succession?
Succession, also known as probate in other states, is the legal process in Louisiana that occurs after a person dies. It involves settling the deceased person's estate and distributing their property after debts are repaid.
Generally, a decedent's estate goes through succession in Louisiana if the estate is worth $125,000 or more, regardless of whether the decedent died intestate (without a will) or testate (with a will). However, a small succession may also include a succession of a person who has died testate, leaving no immovable property.
If the person dies with a will, this is called a testate succession. If the person dies without a will, this is referred to as an intestate succession.
It is possible that your will may be challenged by:
- Family members who did not receive a legacy or who want to seek a larger share of the estate
- Creditors who have a claim on your assets.
Succession offers an opportunity for such challenges to be made before the distribution of your financial and real estate assets. Whether you are entering the golden years of your life, have come into a sum of money, or have a family that depends on you, it is crucial to create a valid last will and testament to ensure your wishes are enforced and honored.
For experienced and skilled legal representation, call our Baton Rouge Succession Lawyer today at (225) 228-4445.
What is the Succession Process?
The Louisiana succession procedure involves several legal steps. Delays and unexpected circumstances may impede the process at any one of these steps. Though formal administration from a court may hasten some succession procedures, it can take time to get the help of a court in the proceedings.
The timeline of a Louisiana probate case depends on several factors, including:
- Challenges of will/testament
- Confirmation of administrators
- Compliance of parties
- Preparation of asset lists
- Submission of affidavits
In most Louisiana succession cases, the assets of the deceased are frozen until the necessary court orders and administration resolutions are complete. When it is important for the parties involved in succession to conclude the procedure quickly and without unnecessary delays, seeking the legal guidance of an experienced probate attorney may be the help you need.
Who takes care of the estate in a succession case?
A key part of the succession process is administering the estate of the deceased. Most Louisiana succession cases are divided into Succession Without Administration and Succession With Full Administration. Administration can be utilized in both kinds of successions, though it is not required in Succession Without Administration. Succession administration can delay succession proceedings and create additional expenses. Minimizing the necessity of administration where possible keeps the succession running smoothly without unnecessary hassles.
If you are involved in a Louisiana succession proceeding, ensure administration is properly and efficiently handled with legal guidance from an experienced Baton Rouge probate lawyer.
Some of the procedures a court supervises in the succession process include:
- Dealing with sales, leases, and other contracts.
- Filing inventory of estate assets.
- Filing annual accounting.
- Paying estate debts.
An alternative to court-supervised administration in Louisiana is independent administration. Unless specified in a will, independent administration must be acquired through consent from all successors/inheritors. Independent administration can be performed without a supervising judge, which can cut out additional expenses from court proceedings.
Independent administration differs from court-supervised administration in several ways, including:
- No requirement to post bonds (unless required by a will)
- No permission needed for sale, lease, and other estate procedures
- Reduced publication costs
Disputes and Petitions
A number of problems may arise during the process of estate administration. Whether details were not properly disclosed or disagreements arise over guardianships, the issues that arise while carrying out the declarations of a will are commonly known as succession disputes. The procedure of contesting a will and taking legal action to resolve probate disputes is known as probate litigation.
If you are involved in administering an estate through a will, trust, or other legal document, one or more succession disputes may arise during the process.
An improperly handled dispute may adversely affect the estate in a way that improperly reflects the wishes of the deceased. In succession litigation, it is important that the wishes of the deceased are respected, and your personal involvement in the succession procedure is not misrepresented.
Succession litigation may ensure several successes in the administration of an estate, including:
- Arriving at mutually agreeable solutions among parties.
- Ensuring all parties benefit as the deceased declared in a will.
- Resolving liabilities in taxes.
- Securing maximum benefits from properties.
Following the death of an individual, a person may file a "petition for possession," which is a pleading to open the estate of the deceased in a succession proceeding. In most circumstances, a petition for possession is necessary when opening an estate in a probate court. The process of preparing and carrying out the petition has several steps, each of which should be performed correctly to avoid delays.
Some of the steps involved in filing a probate petition in Louisiana include:
- Accounting of all assets and liabilities
- Preparing a list of heirs to the deceased
- Paying any taxes due
- Paying required procedure fees
In certain situations, you may be able to file an ex parte petition for possession in a succession case. With an ex parte petition, you could bring a succession court proceeding to a judge without representation or notification of other parties. In the right conditions, these petitions can hasten a succession case and reduce risks of procedure delays. Ex parte petitions may not always be available to a succession case, but it is important to explore all your options as you move forward.
Find an Alternative to Court Proceedings
Probate litigation and succession court proceedings can become long and expensive ordeals. When handling an estate, it is important to explore all of the options available in order to determine which plan is most effective. Louisiana probate law provides several procedures that can help in avoiding the succession process.
Five alternatives to Louisiana succession include the following (transfers by affidavit):
- Bank accounts: up to $10,000 to surviving spouse.
- Motor vehicles: vehicle title for insurance purposes.
- Small deposits: in absence of will, up to $5,000 to surviving spouse and heirs.
- Small estate: property assets less than $75,000 in total.
- Wages/benefits: up to $6,000 to surviving spouse.
Removing an Incompetent Executor
In some circumstances, it may be a good idea to remove the executor of a will. Also known as the personal representative, an executor has important duties in the procedure of a succession case. In most states, a party in a succession case may take legal action to remove an executor.
In Louisiana, an executor must meet certain qualifications, including:
- 18 years of age or older
- Mentally competent
- No felonies on criminal record
- State resident
Removing an executor may be a necessary step in ensuring the security of an estate and a mutually amicable solution for all parties in a succession case. Usually, a party can make a request to a probate court to remove the personal representative. If an executor does not meet Louisiana qualifications or may not perform his duties effectively, it is important to consider the option of removal.
A court may remove an executor for several different reasons, including:
- Mental or physical incapability of performing duties.
- Failure to properly administer the estate.
- Moves from the state without appointing an agent.
- Failure to comply with other court orders.
Utilizing Business Succession Plans
Succession does not only occur due to someone passing away intestate or without a will. You can create a business succession plan as part of your estate plan to determine who will inherit control of your company. Since your business is not technically a tangible item, this process is typically separate or more complicated than other forms of asset distribution. It is recommended you discuss business succession and what would benefit your loved ones the most with a trusted attorney.
Plan for the Future with My Help Today
Whether you have questions about how to prevent intestate succession or how to navigate complicated probate issues, you can count on me to provide the professional guidance and counsel you need. I custom-tailor every solution to each case I take based on the client’s individual needs, so you never will worry about being handed a pre-manufactured resolution.
Contact me today to speak with a Baton Rouge estate planning lawyer.
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