Louisiana has a unique legal system with special procedures governing the dissolution of estates and the disbursement of inheritances. Compared to most other states, a Louisiana succession is likely to be a long, drawn-out, and time-consuming affair, with proceedings likely to last at least several months. While the Bayou State offers simplified probate for some estates, any case involving a home or other high-value real estate has the potential for complication.
Estimating Your Estate Succession Timeline
Succession, or probate, is the formal process of dissolving a deceased person’s estate. Under most circumstances, probate requires that an appointed personal representative inventory the estate’s assets, pay its creditors, and distribute inheritances to designated heirs.
Some people use revocable living trusts and other strategies to avoid succession in its entirety. However, in the absence of any comprehensive estate plan, most estate assets must be distributed in accordance with the Bayou State’s succession laws.
Every succession is unique, and there is no uniform timeline for completion. A simple succession could be resolved in a matter of weeks, while others may take the better part of a year. If an heir disputes their inheritance, or the estate is subject to any unforeseen tax complications, probate could take significantly longer. The length of succession could be dependent on many factors.
Probate is a time-sensitive process, and executors must work quickly to initiate succession if they wish to stay in compliance with Louisiana state law. However, the executor or the estate’s attorney may need additional time to locate relevant assets and notify potential heirs of proceedings.
Successions typically take less time when the heirs are in agreement about the terms of a will or living trust. Disputes and contests can significantly impede the probate process since certain steps cannot be completed until challenges are resolved.
Louisiana requires that many probate-related documents be signed and notarized by pre-specified dates. Delays are likely if some interested parties are not immediately available.
A succession should be initiated in the district court of the parish where the deceased person lived. However, different courts can have significantly different workloads.
Once the court receives a petition to begin probate, the Clerk of Court must process the paperwork and assign it to a judge. However, judges are frequently overworked, and they may have an extensive backlog of cases.
Making a paperwork mistake, or missing a deadline, could lengthen succession proceedings.
Speeding up Your Louisiana Succession
Probate can be a time-consuming and costly affair. Even when successions are uneventful and straightforward, any mistake—no matter how minor—could force heirs to wait months for their inheritances.
How a Louisiana Succession Lawyer Can Help
- Order death certificates
- Locate an original will
- Initiate a probate case and file the appropriate paperwork
- Collect, inventory, and manage estate assets, including assets such as safe deposit boxes you may not have known existed
- Appraise real properties, artwork, and collectibles
- Re-title bank accounts and transfer life insurance proceeds
- Assess creditor claims, dismissing those that are not valid or seem suspect
- Pay estate creditors and resolve the decedent’s debts
- Resolve disputes among heirs without the need for arbitration or trial
- Advocate the estate’s interests in the event of any creditor contest or challenge
- Distribute inheritances quickly and efficiently
Louisiana law does not require that executors or heirs hire an attorney to settle an estate. However, hiring an experienced probate lawyer could help beneficiaries receive their inheritances with minimal delay.
Scott Vicknair Law for Your Estate and Probate Needs
The succession attorneys for the Estate & Probate Division of Scott Vicknair Law handle probate and estate issues for clients throughout Louisiana. Many of our clients contact us without knowing what specific legal services they need. A family member may have just died, and the client is finalizing the estate, or the estate is stuck in probate, and they don’t know what to do. Our skilled, experienced succession attorneys analyze the issue they face and find an effective solution.
Because our team has handled so many estates, we’ve probably seen one like yours. Whether you want to create an estate plan or update your current plan, you’re dealing with a disruptive family member who’s causing problems during the estate settlement process, or you’re trying to validate a last will and testament, our exceptional attorneys will work to help you protect your legal rights. Our attorneys understand complicated family dynamics and have worked with estates of all sizes. Contact us online, or call Scott Vicknair Law, Estate & Probate Division today at 504-264-1057.