When a person dies in Louisiana and their property is set to be passed on to loved ones and others they may have named in their estate plan, the estate must go through succession. This is a term that Louisiana uses and is generally referred to as probate in other states. Because people have different amounts of assets, the type of succession will vary. For those who have property that is $125,000 or less, their estate will fall under the category of “small succession.” The designation is critical to the process, so it is wise to understand it. This is also crucial if the person who died did not have an estate plan.
Will a judicial proceeding be necessary for a small estate?
Depending on the circumstances, a judicial proceeding will not automatically be necessary with a small estate. According to the law, the judicial proceeding will not be needed if they died with or without a will or lived outside of Louisiana if their heirs are descendants (children); ascendants; siblings or their descendants; a spouse; or beneficiaries in the will.
When it is not legally required to open a judicial proceeding for a small estate, there can be an affidavit for small succession. A minimum of two people must take part to use this option. It can include a surviving spouse and at least one major heir.
In it, the following information must be provided whether they had a will or not: the date the person died and where they lived at the time; if they were married, the name of the surviving spouse and their address; the identities of the heirs, their relationship and where they lived; the property the person left behind, if it is separate or community property; the property value; details of interests in the property that is to be inherited; and affirmations that the signed affidavit will signify the acceptance of the deceased property.
Succession can be complicated and it may be beneficial to have help
Losing a loved one is always emotional and the aftermath with all the legal issues that inevitably arise can be complex. In many cases, people have adequately prepared for the future by creating a clear and comprehensive estate plan that names an executor to handle all the areas of succession. Even if they did not have a will or other estate plan, knowing the law and having help is key.
The amount the person owned can also be a critical factor whether they had a will or not. A small succession could be the preferable option. Even with a smaller estate, there can still be disagreements between family members and heirs. For assistance with the entire process of succession regardless of the level of assets the person had and whether they had a will or not, it is wise to consult with professionals who are experienced in these matters and can provide guidance to navigate the case.