Louisiana Successions and Probate
Theus Law Offices is home to experienced Louisiana Successions Attorneys. We recognize the probate process comes at a difficult and sensitive time in the lives of our clients. Our team is here to make the court proceeding happen in the easiest, and fastest way possible. There is no reason to wait, so contact us now to schedule a free initial consultation, or use the link below to schedule a Free 15-Minute Call with an experienced Louisiana Succession Lawyer. To make the most of your time, please download and return our Probate Worksheet.
What is a Louisiana Succession?
When a person dies, the assets of the deceased person must be conveyed or transferred to the heirs or legatees of the deceased person. Probate is the common law term for the court process of transferring title to assets of a deceased person. In Louisiana, the court process is referred to as a "succession." The terms "probate" and "succession" are used interchangably in Louisiana.
Probate property is, generally speaking, all of your assets which are not held in trust, and which do not pass title by some other means, such as beneficiary designation. If you have no will in place, and your assets are not held in trust, Louisiana law will determine who will receive your probate property when you pass. If you have a properly drafted will, your wishes will be stated as to who your probate assets should go to. This can be a complicated process at an already difficult time, and it is wise to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable, Louisiana probate attorney.
To learn more about the probate process of administering a Louisiana succession and/or ancillary probate in Louisiana, visit these supporting pages of our website:
What Your Louisiana Probate Lawyer Will Do For You
Our legal team of skilled probate lawyers includes a specialist in Estate Administration certified by the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization. They will guide you through the process with an eye toward post-mortem planning opportunities, as well as helping you make necessary changes to existing estate and business plans.
We are committed to ensuring that our clients feel well-informed and connected through every stage of the process.
A knowledgable Estate Administration Lawyer is ready to help you with any task you may requests, but normally the Executor or Administrator of an estate will need help with the following:
- Opening the succession by filing the Will (if the decedent died testate) in the Judicial District Court of appropriate jurisdiction, together with supporting documents, such as affidavits of death;
- Preparing a Detailed Descriptive List of Assets and Debts (a required inventory of all assets and debts of the estate with fair market value as of the date of the death);
- Obtaining valuations of business interest or appraisals of real estate and other property;
- Settling creditor claims against the succession;
- Arrange for the filing of tax returns;
- Obtaining a Federal Tax Identification Number for the estate;
- Working with difficult heirs or legatees;
- Selling or liquidating assets of the estate;
- Preparing all necessary pleadings, such as a Petition for Possession and Judgment of Possession;
- Court appearances; and
- Obtaining a release and discharge of the Executor or Administrator upon completion of the succession (very important!).
What is a Simple Succession?
There really is no such thing as a Simple Succession. All successions involve some level of complexity. In real terms, it takes nearly the same amount of work to probate a single assets (e.g., a residence) as it does for a multi-million dollar estate because all the same documents have to be prepared and filed. That being said, the term "simple succession" in lay terms may refer to a "small succession," which qualifies for reduced court costs and may be eligible for an abbreviated affidavit procedure, which does not require a court proceeding. See below for details.
What is Forced Heirship in Louisiana?
Forced Heirship is alive and well in Louisiana. A forced heir cannot be disinherited and is automatically entitled to a percentage of the estate of a decedent.
A forced heir is defined as (1) a child of the Decedent who is under twenty-four (24) years of age, or (2) a child of any age who because of a mental or physical condition, are permanently incapable of taking care of their person or administering their estate at the time of the decedent's death. (La. Civ. Code art. 1493)
In 2003, the Louisiana legislature expanded the definition of a forced heir to include "descendants who, at the time of death of the decedent, have, according to medical documentation, an inherited, incurable disease or condition that may render them incapable of caring for their persons or administering their estates in the future."
What does this mean in real terms? Any one who has an inherited mental or physical condition that may render them incapable of caring for themselves at some point in the future is arguably a forced heir in Louisiana. For example, a person with bi-polar disorder is considered a forced heir under Louisiana law. A credible argument can be made for any number of other conditions ranging from diabetes to high colesterol. Suffice it to say, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and risk relative to the law of forced heirship in Louisiana.
What is the Marital Portion in Louisiana?
When a married person dies in Louisiana, the surviving spouse is entitled to a percentage of the estate if the deceased spouse died "rich in comparison" to the surviving spouse. (La. Civ. Code art. 2432). The term "rich in comparison" is not a defined term, however courts in Louisiana generally apply a rule of thumb of a 5:1 ratio. In other words, if a person dies with assets five times greater than their surviving spouse, then the surviving spouse will be entitled to claim a marital portion from the estate of the deceased spouse.
The marital share cannot be waived in a prenuptial agreement. Neither earnings, nor earning capacity is taken into account in determining the marital portion.
The amount of the marital portion is one-fourth (1/4) of the succession if the decased spouse died without any children. If the deceased spouse had three or fewer children, then the marital portion is in the form of a usufruct one-fourth (1/4) of the succession if the decased spouse. The marital portion is the same as a child's share if the deceased spouse died with more than three children.
Is Probate a Public Proceeding?
Generally the probate process is public, which means all pleadings and other filings will be open and available to the general public. However, a recent change in Louisiana law now allows the inventory to be filed "under seal", which means the inventory is no longer available to the general public. To learn more about filing an inventory "under seal", please see our blog article entitled, "Revocable Trust No Longer Necessary to Hide Asset Values in Louisiana."
Other Helpful Articles About Probate in Louisiana:
Protecting Everything You Own and Everyone You Love...
The loss of a loved one can be overwhelming. It is not possible for prepare emotionally - even if the loss is expected. Legal issues relating to the probate process can be stressful and challenging. Navigating the process requires that you know the rules and your options.
Whether you need a simple estate administration for a small succession, or require additional legal assistance for a more complicated estate or a will contest, we provide comprehensive, experienced representation. Our Estate Administration lawyers will guide you through the process with confidence and security. Attorney J. Graves Theus, Jr. has been certified as a specialist in probate and estate administration by the Louisiana State Board of Legal Specialization. Theus Law Offices serves the entire State of Louisiana handling both small and large estates. In addition, Theus Law Offices has successfully litigated numerous contests involving wills and trusts.
If you have questions about a Louisiana Succession, or any other probate topics, please contact our office
to schedule a free consultation, or use the link below to schedule your Free 15-Minute Call
with an experienced Louisiana Probate Lawyer.