If your loved one died without a will, your loved one’s property must be distributed to the heirs. The process of a Louisiana intestate succession is often complicated, but it becomes even more complex when there is an heir you can’t locate.
What to Do About Absent Heirs
It’s possible that you know an heir exists. Maybe you have a sibling or a cousin, for example, who has moved and distanced themselves from the family. If all your attempts to reach the heir by telephone, email, or mail have gone unanswered, you may feel there’s no reasonable way to locate them.
In Louisiana, an heir that cannot be found is known as an absent heir. Louisiana law requires the court to appoint an attorney to represent the absent heir’s interests. The attorney for the absent heir should:
- Make reasonable and necessary efforts to find the absent heir. These efforts may include placing a newspaper ad in an area where the absent heir was known to live, performing an internet search for the missing heir, or contacting other relatives or friends who may know where the heir is living.
- Represent the heir, if the heir is found. If the heir is found, the attorney should represent the heir during succession proceedings.
- Represent the heir, if the heir is not found. If the attorney’s reasonable efforts to find the absent heir are not successful, the attorney must report that to the court. The succession proceedings must go forward without the heir, but the attorney may continue to represent the absent heir’s interests. If the heir cannot be found, the attorney must show cause why the heir of the intestate estate should not be recognized by the court and given possession of the property without an administration of succession. The court will hold a hearing and may rule that an administration is unnecessary and that all of the intestate heirs, including the absentee heir, should take possession of the property.
An absent heir may complicate an intestate succession. Please contact an experienced Louisiana succession lawyer today to make sure that all of your rights are protected with as little stress and expense as possible. Please call us at any time, or fill out our contact form to have us contact you.