Louisiana law recognizes three different types of successions. While all estates need to distribute assets and pay debts, this can happen in a variety of ways, depending on the specific circumstances facing the estate. Specifically, an estate can be handled as a(n):
- Succession Without Administration. If all of the heirs cooperate, an administration of the estate is unnecessary. Instead of collecting and managing assets and identifying and paying creditor claims before distributing property to the heirs, the heirs simply take possession of the property.
- Succession With Full Administration. When legal disputes arise, or the heirs can’t agree about what should happen to estate property, the court may appoint an administrator. It is the administrator’s job to collect assets, manage assets, identify creditor claims, and pay debts.
- Independent Administration. This option, like a succession with full administration, requires that assets be collected and managed and that debts be identified and paid. However, the procedures for administering the estate are different under an independent administration than they are under a succession with full administration.
Key Facts About the Independent Administration of Estates
Whether you are considering an independent administration of an estate or someone else has suggested it, it is essential to know how it works. Specifically, you may want to know:
- How is an independent succession administrator appointed? Wills can provide for independent succession administrators. If a will does not provide for an independent administrator but also does not explicitly prohibit an independent administration, all of the legatees may agree to an independent administration. Likewise, if a person dies without a will, all of the intestate heirs may agree to an independent administration of the estate.
- How do I know that an independent succession administrator is appointed? The court will issue Letters of Independent Administration or Letters of Independent Executorship. The court may not prohibit an independent administration if the decedent provided for an independent administration in the will or all of the heirs agree to an independent administration.
- When does an independent administration start? Typically, an independent administration begins when the succession is opened with the court. However, a court administered succession with full administration can be changed to an independent administration later, if all of the heirs agree.
- What is the key difference between a succession with full administration and an independent administration? A succession administrator settles the assets and debts of an estate before distributing property to heirs. During a succession with full administration, the administrator must seek court approval for each step that is taken. The same is not true for an independent administration. An independent administrator must be appointed by the court but does not need court approval to take action on behalf of the estate.
- What does an independent administrator do? An independent administrator is responsible for paying estate debts, selling estate property, investing estate property, caring for estate property, identifying estate debts, and paying estate creditors.
- Is a bond required? Typically, bonds are not required for independent administrations, but there are some exceptions to this general rule.
An independent administration can significantly reduce the estate’s succession expenses, delays in resolving estate issues, and delays in distributing property to heirs.
Is an Independent Administration Right for You?
Ultimately, you need to decide if an independent administration is right for your situation. You want to honor the decedent’s wishes and act in the best interest of all heirs, but you may not be sure which type of succession administration best meets everyone’s needs.
Our experienced Louisiana succession lawyers can explain how the pros and cons of the different types of succession administrations apply to your case, and we can help you make the difficult decisions.
Each year, our succession attorneys help hundreds of families throughout Louisiana resolve their succession and probate issues. Call us, or contact us through this website to get started.