Dealing with the death of a family member or a loved one is a particularly trying time. It’s important to understand the basics of the law in regards to next steps and to hire an understanding and capable attorney to help you through the legal processes. Read below to get a better understanding of the estate planning process, the importance of wills, and the details of succession in Metairie, Louisiana and throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
Succession in Louisiana
Known as probate in other states in the U.S., succession is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate and property upon their death. (Louisiana is the only state that uses this term because of its history with French and Spanish law.)
In Louisiana, an estate includes all property, rights and obligations that a person leaves behind when they die. A succession exists to give clear titles to these assets so that the people who inherit these assets can know and understand their value. For example, two of the most common reasons for opening a succession case are getting access to bank accounts and real estate.
There are two types of successions in Louisiana:
Administered and Unadministered
Administered successions is the more complex version of succession and may be necessary if there is uncertainty about any of the following:
- The heirs of the decedent (the person who died)
- Which heir is entitled to what property
- An heir claims they have not received the assets they are entitled to
- The validity of the decedent’s Will & Testament
- Assets must be sold to cover debts
- Other significant disputes regarding the estate
Most cases in Louisiana, however, require an Unadministered succession. But even with Unadministered successions, there are differences in procedure as to whether the decedent left behind a Will & Testament.
All About Wills
What is a Last Will and Testament, anyway? Simply put, a will is a person’s legal plan for what will happen to their estate upon their death. As long as the testator (the person creating the will) knows how to sign their name and to read and is physically able to do so, these are the necessary steps for verifying the will in Louisiana:
- Signing each page of the will
- Signing the will at the end
- Signing in the presence of a notary and two competent witnesses
- Declaring or signifying to the notary and two competent witnesses that this document is their testament
- Having the notary and two witnesses sign a statement about the signing of the will.
These qualifications must be met for a will to be considered valid by the state of Louisiana.
When there is an available will for the estate, the succession process is called a testate succession. If there is no will, the process is an intestate succession.
When is Succession Required?
A succession is not always necessary when dealing with a deceased person’s estate, but it is one way to formally transfer the ownership and re-title the assets in the name of the heirs. As mentioned above, whether someone dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate) both require succession if there is no other available method to transfer the assets.
Successions also provide ways for the decedent’s debts to be paid, particularly when it comes to the heirs. (In Louisiana, an heir is not responsible to make up the difference if the debt is more than their inheritance.)
How Macaluso Law Firm Can Help
It’s important to choose an attorney who has your best interest at heart. Our team at the Macaluso Law Firm has the experience and the drive to make sure all your needs are met through fair representation. If you have recently lost a loved one or need assistance navigating the Greater New Orleans area succession system, call our practice at (504) 475-2622 to schedule a consultation today.