What is a Succession?
In Louisiana, a succession is the process of changing title or ownership of a deceased person’s estate, or property. Other states refer to this process as Probate. A succession is about certifying who is entitled the property of the deceased person. The succession gives third parties an assurance that the new ownership of the property is legitimate. Banks will then be willing to release funds held in the deceased’s name and buyers will have confidence in title received for property bought from the estate. Without an completed succession the property will often be non-transferable or inaccessible.
There are two different categories of successions, intestate and testate. Intestate succession is when the deceased person died without a will, whereas a testate succession is one in which the deceased did have a will. Intestate successions are about identifying who is part of the group of heirs that is entitled to inherit the property. A testate succession is often about certifying the will and identifying any property that may have been omitted from its scope.
Successions can be complicated by the community property of married couples and by the laws of forced heirship. It is best to consult with an attorney about a succession.
When is a Succession Required in Louisiana?
The necessity of a succession is dependent on the assets of the deceased. For property owned by the decease that is held by third parties a succession is likely going to be necessary for the release or transfer of that property. For assets such as retirement accounts, annuities, or stock portfolios a succession is likely unnecessary because they have designated beneficiaries and are transferred without the need of involving the courts. Those accounts are treated as contracts and when the deceased identifies to the account manager the person to receive the funds at his or her death, the account manager is obligated to follow the contract and issue the funds. Even if the deceased had a will stating that someone else should receive those funds, the beneficiary designation listed in the contract will determine who get the funds.
Additionally, a deceased’s estate valuing at $125,000.00 or less might only need a Small Estate Affidavit to accomplish the goals of obtaining access to the property.
How Long Does a Succession Take?
Most successions take between three to six months to go through the Courts. That does not include the time that you will spend meeting with your attorney and gathering documents identifying the deceased’s assets. However, if there is a contested succession the time could be significantly higher. If someone attempts to challenge the validity of a will that would be a contested succession. A contested succession turns a simpler process of verifying the estate into a longer and more complex trial about the validity of the documents and intent of the deceased.