The Law of an Executor Settling an Estate in Louisiana

By Wayne Thomas

Probate is a process involving the legal transfer of your property after death. In Louisiana, probate is referred to as succession and if you have a valid will in place, the person you appoint to handle the process is known as the succession representative. This individual serves the same role as an executor in other states and has the responsibility of collecting and safeguarding your property throughout succession. For this reason, the selection of a trustworthy and reliable succession representative is an important component of drafting your will.

Proving the Will

After you pass away, the first job of your succession representative is to submit your will to the court. If you executed the will in the presence of a notary, it is considered "self-proved," and does not usually require witnesses to testify to its validity. If the will is in your handwriting, it can be valid but will require two witnesses to testify that the will meets the legal requirements, typically in the form of written affidavits. If a judge concludes that the will is valid, your succession representative will be called upon to serve in either the standard succession process or an independent administration, if you requested this in the will. The main difference is that standard succession is heavily court-supervised, while an independent administration does not require nearly as much court approval and can be less time consuming and expensive. If your will is declared invalid, or there is no will, the court will appoint a succession representative.

Valuing the Estate

Once the validity of the will has been established and it's accepted by the court, the next job of your succession representative is to determine what property of yours is subject to succession and what is considered non-succession property. Non-succession property passes automatically upon your death, and includes real estate owned as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, payable on death accounts, property in trusts and life insurance proceeds. All other property is generally subject to the succession procedure. Your succession representative is required to inventory the property, determine its value, open a bank account for your money, and make an annual accounting to your heirs and the court of all transactions made regarding your property. Your representative may sell or invest assets, but only after court approval, unless your will provided for an independent administration.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Paying Claims

Once the estate has been valued, the next step is to pay all outstanding debts and taxes. This is typically done by sending written notice to all known creditors and publishing notice in a local newspaper to allow unknown creditors to come forward with their claims. Louisiana requires court approval for the payment of debts and the sale of assets, unless you provide the representative with the authority to act independently. Unlike many states, Louisiana law does not provide a legal time frame within which creditors must collect before they are barred. However, heirs that have received inherited property are free from personal liability to creditors that come forward after the court-approved succession process has completed.

Distribution

Once claims have been paid, your representative will then seek court approval for distribution of your remaining property according to your wishes under the will. This is accomplished through a court order, referred to as a judgment of possession, which is essentially a list of all property and heirs who are entitled to receive it. Ownership will not change hands until your representative presents a final accounting showing all debts and costs paid, as well as the payment of reasonable compensation for the representative's services. This is typically the last duty of the representative and once the property is transferred to the heirs, the succession process is considered closed.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
When Is an Estate Considered Settled?
 

References

Related articles

Do You Have to Probate a Will According to the Laws in the State of Texas?

When someone dies, Texas law requires that his probate assets be distributed to his heirs or beneficiaries, so probate — the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person's assets — is required for most estates in Texas. Some assets, such as life insurance or jointly owned assets, are considered nonprobate assets that do not have to go through the probate process, but other assets like personal property and vehicles usually require probate.

What Are the Duties of an Executor of a Will in Delaware?

In Delaware, residents may draft wills directing the distribution of their property after death. A testator, or will maker, typically names an executor in his will whose primary duty will be to gather and distribute his assets upon his death. The Register of Wills formally appoints the executor. Once a formal appointment is made, the executor can legally carry out his duties of administering the decedent's estate.

Is There a Statute to Probate a Will in Louisiana?

Like many states, Louisiana requires most wills to pass through probate before an estate is distributed. The court-supervised process, termed "succession proceeding" in Louisiana, is intended to ensure that estate assets are distributed according to the terms of the testator's will. Louisiana statutes are premised on French law, so some terms of the probate code differ significantly from those of other states. The statutes governing probate law and procedures are found in the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, or CPP, and in the Civil Code, or CC.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

Louisiana Ancillary Probate Laws

Probate is the process by which property owned by a deceased person is distributed according to a will. If you are not ...

What Is the Meaning of Settle Estate?

A Last Will and Testament contains instructions for the distribution of a person's assets, also referred to as the ...

What Does Independent Administration Mean in Probating a Will?

When someone dies, his estate may have to go through a probate process to pay final debts and distribute the remaining ...

How to Divide Property Among Heirs in Mississippi

When a person dies with a valid will, his estate’s executor distributes his property according to the terms of his ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED