What does it mean to do probate and a succession in Louisiana?

The terms “probate” and “succession” are often used interchangeably, but the term probate means that the Court received a Last Will and Testament to review and give that Last Will effect. So, a Last Will is “probated.” But, both Testate (with a Last Will) and Intestate (No Will) Successions occur and the overall process in both cases results in the Court recognizing, by Court Order, the new owners of probate assets – items such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, and investment accounts that fall outside of your qualified retirement plans.

In Louisiana, a Succession can be completed in a very timely and cost effective manner. For example, we can open and close a succession with one filing, where all beneficiaries/heirs are in agreement to accept the assets, and assume the liabilities of the succession, and the estate is solvent. That process involves no administration of the succession (meaning, there is no need to appoint an Executor) and allows us to go “straight to Judgment.” Typically, the time from filing our pleadings and receiving the signed Judgment to close the succession and put the new heirs in ownership, is approximately thirty (30) days. When an estate is solvent, Louisiana law does not require us to physically go to court or provide any notice to heirs or creditors. The process can be incredibly streamlined.

Other times, we may need to actually appoint an “Administrator” (or Executor, if there is a Last Will) to do some leg work for the succession, such as winding up a business, or liquidating assets to distribute to beneficiaries. Again, where all heirs/beneficiaries are in agreement (Or, a Will allows for independent administration) and we have a solvent estate, we can have an “Independent Administrator” appointed, meaning, that Administrator still acts independently of the court and without having to get court authority for all actions. So that administration can still be streamlined and cost effective. Most often, the succession takes as long to complete as it takes to sell real estate or liquidate assets for distribution.

Last, if there is an heir contesting a Will, the extent of the estate, or any other matter, or, the succession involves creditor issues, then, you must proceed with “full administration,” which requires publishing notice and obtaining court authority to sell assets and pay debts. This type of a succession can involve litigation, and, like any litigated matter, will be more timely and costly. But, the majority of successions that we receive, can proceed with no administration, or independent administration.

What does a succession cost?

When our office can proceed with no administration, or independent administration, we can charge an affordable, flat fee. In addition, the filing fees throughout Louisiana usually range from $300.00-$400.00, depending on whether there is no administration or independent administration. If you proceed to fill out a succession information sheet, we can determine the best route to proceed for a succession and the associated flat fee.

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Christie Tournet & Associates is committed to answering your questions about Estate Planning, Successions & Probate and Commercial & Real Estate law issues in Mandeville, Covington, throughout St Tammany Parish and the Greater New Orleans area.

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