How Out-of-State Properties Can Affect a Louisiana Succession
Every state has its own probate code. In Louisiana, probate is often referred to as “succession.” During succession, the deceased person’s personal representative must inform the court of the decedent’s death. After succession is initiated, the executor is tasked with settling the estate by paying creditors and distributing inheritances.
Louisiana, like most states, allows many executors to administer an estate with limited court oversight. However, if the decedent owned property titled in another state or another country, the executor may have to open ancillary probate proceedings.
Domiciliary and Ancillary Successions
If a Louisiana resident held properties or accounts in another state, their executor might have to initiate either or both of the following types of succession proceedings:
- Domiciliary succession. A domiciliary succession must be opened in the deceased person’s place of residence, or domicile. In a domiciliary succession, the executor must present a copy of the decedent’s last will and testament for verification before collecting the estate’s assets, clearing its debt, and distributing inheritances.
- Ancillary succession. An ancillary succession may be opened if a Louisiana resident owned property in another state or territory or an out-of-state resident owned property in Louisiana. Under most circumstances, an ancillary succession can be initiated without a will, provided the decedent’s estate plan has already been submitted in their principal state of residence.
Domiciliary and ancillary successions can be complementary. However, different courts in different states may have different requirements for executors.
The Challenges of Filing for an Ancillary Estate Succession
Since every state has its own probate code, the procedure for initiating an ancillary succession varies from one state to another. In Louisiana, ancillary proceedings are similar to other probate proceedings.
However, domiciliary and ancillary proceedings may differ in several key respects. For example:
- The estate representative has priority in the domiciliary proceeding. If the deceased person created an estate plan and named an executor to settle their estate, the executor will be presumed competent to fulfill their duties by the domiciliary state. While a Louisiana court could disqualify an executor for one of several different reasons, most adults of good moral character may act as an estate representative.
- The executor may not be authorized to probate ancillary assets. The executor appointed for the domiciliary succession might lack the legal capacity to initiate ancillary proceedings in another state. If the personal representative does not have this legal capacity, they must either hire an attorney or petition the out-of-state court for permission to administer the estate’s ancillary assets.
- The domiciliary and ancillary courts might have different expectations. While different states have different requirements for wills and testaments, an estate plan created in accordance with the law of one state will customarily be recognized as valid in another. So, if succession was initiated in the decedent’s state of residence, the executor is not necessarily required to formally probate the will in the ancillary state. However, an estate representative’s ability to faithfully execute the terms of the deceased person’s will could be affected by jurisdictional constraints.
How an Attorney Could Help You Fulfill an Ancillary Succession
Filing an ancillary succession is typically straightforward. However, executors do not always have the legal capacity to initiate proceedings in another state. An experienced Louisiana succession attorney could help you settle a loved one’s estate by taking the following steps:
- Filing the right paperwork with the right out-of-state court
- Properly re-titling and transferring the decedent’s assets in accordance with Louisiana law
- Resolving any disputes that might arise, ensuring that you need not travel repeatedly to another state
Contact a Louisiana Succession Lawyer Today
Scott Vicknair Law has spent decades helping Louisiana residents build and protect their legacies. If you need assistance filing a succession outside the Bayou State, please call us today at 504-264-1057 to schedule your initial consultation.