When someone dies with assets and property to their name in Louisiana, the estate will have to go through succession before any property can be distributed to heirs. At the end of the succession process, a judgment of possession will be issued by the court to formally order the transfer of property according to the deceased’s wishes, or state law if there is no will. If you are expecting to inherit from a loved one’s estate, it’s important to be aware that you can’t simply hire an attorney to get a judgment of possession without first going through the succession process.
Basic Types of Estate Succession
Every estate in Louisiana—no matter how big or small—has to go through some form of probate, or as it’s known in Louisiana, succession. Most successions will fall into one of the following two basic categories:
- Succession without administration. This process is sometimes referred to as “simple possession” because it doesn’t require an estate representative or extensive court proceedings. If there is a valid Last Will & Testament, all of the heirs are competent and in agreement, and no creditors are demanding an administration, a succession attorney can file the required paperwork and request a judgment of possession. Even if there is no will, an estate can proceed without administration if it is free of debt and all parties are in agreement.
- Succession with full administration. If there is a question about the validity of a testament, assets need to be sold to pay creditors, or heirs are involved in a dispute, the estate will have to go through full administration by the court. A succession representative will be appointed, and the court will oversee the process. Once all matters are settled, an attorney can request a judgment of possession.
It can be difficult to determine which kind of estate you are dealing with after a loved one dies. In a free consultation with Scott | Vicknair Law, Estate & Probate Division, however, you can find out quickly what the next steps will be to settle your family member’s estate.
What Is the Purpose of a Judgment of Possession?
Whether the estate you are dealing with requires full administration or not, at the end of the succession process, a judgment of possession will be issued. The purpose of this document is to order third parties in control of assets, such as banks and real estate title companies, to transfer the assets to the heirs or legatees. With a judgment of possession, property can be re-deeded, motor vehicles can be re-titled, and money can be withdrawn from bank accounts without the signature of the deceased legal owner.
The judgment of possession will:
- Identify the spouse, heirs, and legatees who are entitled to the decedent’s assets
- Transfer possession to the appropriate parties
Without this document, property and assets cannot be distributed to the heirs of the estate.
Why You Need an Attorney to Obtain a Judgment of Possession
From the moment a loved one has died until the estate is finally closed, numerous things can go wrong. More than one testament may surface. One heir may contest another heir’s right to inherit. Creditors may make a claim on the bulk of an estate. Someone living in the house may refuse to leave—preventing it from being sold so the proceeds can be divided.
These kinds of problems will significantly slow down—and even stop—the process of settling an estate. When you work with an experienced Louisiana succession attorney from the outset, issues can be properly managed as they arise.
How Our Succession & Probate Attorneys Can Help With a Judgment of Possession
The succession and probate attorneys at Scott | Vicknair Law helps hundreds of families every year with succession issues. We can guide you through the process so that you can take possession of the assets and property you are supposed to inherit. Let our experience work for you to make the probate process as easy and cost-effective as possible. Contact us in our New Orleans office to get started today.