In this article, you will learn:
- Factors that contribute to succession and probate
- How disputes are handled
- How estate planning attorneys can help
Whenever there is a will, you must go into probate – probate technically means to prove the will. Now, if you don’t have a will, you still must go through the probate process, but we generally call it a succession in that case because there is no will. It would be considered an intestate succession. Instead of reading your will and figuring out what you wanted, the judge would just use Louisiana law to decide who gets your property.
The Factors That Could Cause Delays Or Halt Succession Or Probate
Disorganized records can be one of the primary causes of delays, so if we cannot find the decedent’s records it’s really like a scavenger hunt sometimes. That is a prevalent issue. Another issue is conflict – if the kids are fighting over who gets what. This is especially true if there’s a blended marriage situation where there are kids from a prior marriage, and maybe a new spouse, and if the decedent leaves everything to the new spouse, the other kids are going to be mad, and that can cause an issue.
If there’s disabled children involved in Louisiana, we still have forced heirship, which means that if you have a who is permanently disabled, they have a right to inherit a certain percentage of your estate. And if you don’t provide for that in your estate plan, then that’s going to create a lawsuit, more delays, and issues with your succession.
What To Do If Your Inheritance Rights Are Not Clear
In this case, you really need to get advice from somebody knowledgeable. Consult with an attorney that handles successions litigation, and we have one of those luckily. She will take a look at the situation, review whatever documents you have, and figure out what your basis for inheritance is and try to see if there’s an argument that we can make to bring that claim on your behalf.
Who May Inherit In Louisiana Succession Or Probate
Essentially, the spouse can inherit, and if you can prove you’re a child, you can inherit, whether it’s through DNA or otherwise.
Stepchildren Who Have Not Been Adopted As Legal Heirs In Louisiana
Generally, no, stepchildren who have not been adopted are not legal heirs in Louisiana.
What To Expect If A Stepparent Dies Without A Will In Louisiana
If the stepparent dies, you’re not necessarily entitled to anything. However, if anyone dies, then it’s going to be Louisiana law. So, their spouse will get domain over all of their property. In other states, it means they would have the right to the income, and if it’s a house, they have the right to live in the house until they either remarry or die, but remarriage is usually what ends it first. If they’re single, then it just goes to their kids. If there’s no kids, then it goes to the siblings and the parents, but the siblings get the naked ownership.
Common Potential Disputes That Come Up Between Heirs
A significant one is where parents put one of the kids on the checking account, and now there’s money missing. For example, during the succession process, it comes out that so and so had access to the account, and $500,000 is gone. We also see a lot of issues with the validity of the will. Was there undue influence, did one of the kids influence the parent to leave them everything and disinherit everybody else?
When Each Heir May Need Their Own Succession Or Probate Attorney
If everybody gets along, separate attorneys are not needed. Usually the executor hires the attorney, and if there’s no litigation, everybody’s happy. You can then just have that one attorney process the succession, go through all the legal hoops, and get it done and over with. But whenever you get into conflict where one heir is disputing something or you get into litigation, yes, everybody will need their own attorney. Otherwise, it’s going to be a conflict of interest.