After a loved one’s death, you want to settle their affairs as quickly and smoothly as possible. After you’ve considered your options, your next step is to begin the succession process in a Louisiana court.
What You Need to File to Start a Succession
Generally, there are five types of documents that make up initial succession pleading forms. The following pleadings should be filed with the court:
Petition for Possession
The Petition for Possession outlines the key facts in the succession case and about the decedent (the person who died). The Petition should include:
- The decedent’s name
- The decedent’s date of death
- Where the decedent lived at the time of death
- Whether the decedent had a will
- The names of legal heirs or legatees.
If the decedent had a valid will, it should be filed with the Petition for Possession.
At least one person must sign the Petition for Possession. However, if not all successors sign the Petition, the person who does sign should have written consent from the others that they have accepted the succession, and that consent should be reflected in the Petition.
Affidavit of Death, Domicile, and Heirship
The purpose of the Affidavit of Death, Domicile, and Heirship is to establish the truth of what’s written in the Petition for Possession. Therefore, the Affidavit of Death, Domicile, and Heirship must be signed by two people who knew the decedent and who have personal knowledge of the facts of the Affidavit they are signing.
A lot of the information in the Affidavit of Death, Domicile, and Heirship is the same as the information in the Petition for Possession. For example, the Affidavit must include information about:
- The decedent’s death
- The decedent’s marriages
- Any other necessary facts to establish that the succession is filed in the right court
- Any other necessary facts to establish the identities of the decedent’s heirs
If the decedent is divorced, it is also a good idea to include the case name, docket number, divorce judgment date, and the court where the divorce was decided.
Additionally, while Louisiana law doesn’t require you to submit a death certificate, it is typically a good idea to include a death certificate or other evidence of death such as an obituary or funeral program.
Sworn Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities
The sworn descriptive list of assets and liabilities must include all of the decedent’s assets at the time of death. The law doesn’t require all debts to be included, but this is something you should discuss with your succession lawyer.
The list of assets should include the fair market value of all of the decedent’s property at the time of death, and an heir or other interested party must sign it. The list should include all of the decedent’s separate property and one half of the decedent’s community property. The list may include:
- Real estate with a legal description of the property
- Bank accounts
- Personal property of value such as jewelry, cars, boats, and business interests
- Other loan notes
Other things that pass outside of the succession process should not be included on this list—such as life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, retirement or pension plans, and bank accounts with co-depositors.
Renunciations of Donations
If any potential heir is renouncing or rejecting their succession rights, the renunciation should be made known to the court.
Judgment of Possession
The Judgment of Possession explains who gets what when the succession process ends. Therefore, the Judgment of Possession must include all of the decedent’s property and identify which heir inherits that property or a percentage of that property.
Don’t Take Chances: Let Our Succession Lawyers Help You
Every year, our New Orleans succession and probate lawyers help hundreds of Louisiana families with succession issues. Let us use this experience on your behalf. We know how to anticipate potential problems and questions from the court. We will make sure that all of the right pleadings are filed and all of your rights are protected. Call us, or start a live chat with us at any time to learn more.