There is so much to think about when a loved one passes away; for some people, it can be overwhelming. Something to consider is whether or not the decedent (a person who has died) will need a succession.

In Louisiana, a succession is the process that takes place after someone dies in order to transfer ownership of assets from the decedent to his or her heirs.  It is a rare person who leaves absolutely nothing behind. A succession is necessary if the decedent died with assets in his or her name.

There is a slight difference in the succession process depending on whether or not the decedent left a will. Having a last will and testament ensures that the decedent’s final wishes are known and hopefully honored. A valid will leaves instructions. If there is a will, the succession process begins with the filing of a petition asking the court to probate (validate) the decedent’s will and the place the legatees (a legatee is a person legally entitled to inherit under a will) into possession of the decedent’s estate.

If there is not a valid will, the succession process starts with the filing of a petition asking the court to recognize the decedent’s heirs and to place them into possession of the decedent’s estate.

While having a valid will can certainly facilitate the succession process, it does not always guarantee smooth sailing. It is important to have experienced legal help during this process. Contrary to popular belief, successions can be opened and closed very quickly, in some cases. Also, successions do not have to be expensive. Each case is different and there is no “cookie cutter” approach.

Additionally, a succession may or may not need to be administered or placed into administration. With no need for administration, there is a greater chance for a succession to be completed more expeditiously. An administrator/administratrix is a court-appointed representative put in place when there is no will. An executor/executrix is a representative who is named in the will.

An alternative to a full succession is a Small Succession Affidavit. This may be used for estates that are equal to or less than $125,000 in value. This document will transfer the assets of the decedent to their heirs.

Should you need guidance in this area, give our office a call. The initial consultation is free.

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New Orleans, LA 70130

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