Some people die leaving more money and potential legal complications behind than other people do. Yet, distributing assets and settling financial affairs is essential for anyone who dies and leaves assets to loved ones.
Louisiana, like other states, offers different ways of handling small successions (known as estates in other states). In Louisiana, a succession may qualify as a small succession if a person dies: (1) leaving property in the state of Louisiana; and (2) if the gross value of all of the decedent’s assets is $125,000 or less.
How a Small Succession Works
A small succession may be done through a small estate affidavit or a judicial administration. An experienced New Orleans succession lawyer can identify which type of small succession administration is the easiest and most cost-effective for your family.
Louisiana Small Succession Affidavit
Instead of going to court to transfer property, a properly prepared affidavit may accomplish your legal goals. A small succession may be administered by affidavit if:
- The value of the decedent’s estate is $125,000 or less
- The decedent died without a will while living in Louisiana or died while residing in another state and had a will administered in that state
- The decedent’s only heirs are descendants, ascendants, siblings (or their descendants), a spouse, or beneficiaries of a will administered in another state
The affidavit must contain the following information:
- When and where the decedent died
- Identification of all of the decedent’s assets
- Identification of family members and heirs
To be valid, the small succession affidavit must have two signatures. If the decedent was married, then one of those signatures must be the surviving spouse, and the other must be an adult heir. If the decedent was not married, then the affidavit may be signed by two adult heirs. If the decedent has only one heir, then someone with knowledge of what’s in the affidavit may provide the second signature. Additionally, the guardian or tutor of a minor child may sign on behalf of a child.
If the decedent’s assets include real estate, then both the small succession affidavit and the decedent’s death certificate must be filed in the parish where the real estate is located within 90 days of the decedent’s death. Therefore, it is essential to act quickly.
Affidavits can be faster and less expensive than court administrations. However, if a succession doesn’t qualify for administration by affidavit, or if a third party such as a bank or a stockbroker doesn’t agree to abide by an affidavit, then the estate may require judicial administration.
Judicial Administration of Small Estates in Louisiana
An estate that qualifies for small succession but that cannot be administered by a small succession affidavit may go to court. Generally, the same rules that apply to all successions apply to small successions, but identifying an estate as a small succession still has benefits. For example:
- The court costs and personal representative fees are lower for small successions.
- There are different procedures for selling property. In a small succession, the succession representative must publish notice of intent to sell the property in the local newspaper of the parish were the succession is pending. The property must be sold 10-15 days after publication.
An experienced lawyer can file for judicial administration of your loved one’s small succession and advise you each step of the way.
When to Call a Louisiana Small Succession Attorney
Since not all Louisiana successions are the same, it is essential to contact an experienced Louisiana succession attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. Our goal is to help you and your family resolve succession issues as quickly and inexpensively as possible while making sure that all of your rights are protected.
Each year, we help hundreds of Louisiana families with the sometimes difficult and often emotional work of settling their loved one’s affairs. Call us today to talk about your family’s needs and legal options.