Written by: Louisiana Succession Attorney R. Jerome Andries, Andries Law Firm, LLC
If you’re wondering how long you have to file a succession in Louisiana, this article may be helpful. If you just lost a family member, spouse or friend; you may be wondering if you have to file a succession immediately or if you have time to spare.
You don’t have to file a Louisiana succession immediately upon the death of a loved one, but you also don’t want to wait too long before contacting an attorney to assist in the proceedings. Things get more difficult the longer you wait because documents get lost and life happens.
It is recommended that you begin searching for an experienced succession lawyer as soon as you are mentally able. It’s understandable that you’re going through a difficult time and don’t want to think about gathering paperwork, but an attorney who specializes in Louisiana succession law can alleviate some of your concerns and answer questions you may have.
The main issue with waiting a long time to file a succession is that property can be damaged or deteriorate and money can be spent by the wrong people. It’s harder to get money back once it’s been spent by the wrong family member. Plus, bills may continue to be pulled from the bank accounts and money may end up going in multiple directions until there is nothing left once you finally file the required paperwork. Vehicles become undriveable and homes can experience damage if left unattended too long.
A succession puts heirs into possession of movable and immovable property and shouldn’t be put off too long. That doesn’t mean you have to file a succession the moment your loved one passes. You have time to mourn and catch your breath before dealing with the inevitable. Don’t feel that you need to contact an attorney from the funeral to ask legal questions. You have time to spend with your loved ones and get the closure you need before consulting with an attorney.
If you’re having a difficult time dealing with the loss of a loved one, you can put someone in charge of wrapping up paperwork. If your loved one had a will they may have named an executor of their estate and that person’s job is to handle succession issues and contact the attorney. The executor will be able to hire the attorney on behalf of the estate and to ensure there is proper legal representation.
- Read our Louisiana Succession Guide for a better understanding of Louisiana succession procedure.
How Long Does it Take to File A Succession in Louisiana?
If you call local attorneys, their response to this question will likely be “It depends.” The reasons for the vague answer is because each succession in Louisiana is different with its own set of difficulties. Your attorney will have to draft a Petition for Possession, Verifications, Detailed Descriptive List, Judgment and other miscellaneous paperwork.
If you don’t have all of the movable and immovable property handy and all heirs accounted for; it delays the completion of the succession. If you gather all of the required documentation and present it to your attorney in a timely manner, there’s a good chance they can file your paperwork and get the Judge’s signature in a matter of week or months at most.
A good portion of your attorney’s time is spent on locating property to include in the detailed descriptive list and meeting with people who knew the deceased and are able to sign a verification stating they knew the individual and that they have passed away. This could take some time depending on the availability of family members and the attorney’s schedule.
Some Louisiana successions take upwards of a year or more depending on the complexity of the situation. There may be property in multiple parishes or heirs that are out of state. You could also have a disgruntled family member that believes they got cheated out of their intended inheritance and files claims against the estate or tries to invalidate the will. A number of things can prolong the succession process and these are things you need to discuss with your Louisiana succession attorney.
Another issue that pops up often is when multiple successions must be done at the same time. This can complicate things and drag the process further along. Community property that wasn’t dealt with before the individual died is another issue that give attorneys headaches. They must deal with that portion of the issue along with the succession. It’s possible they will have to litigate the community property issue with the deceased’s ex-spouse before settling the estate debts.
How to Speed Up the Succession Process
One thing you can do to assist your attorney in completing the succession process quicker is to have all of your documents ready for your consultation. Gather insurance documents, the will, bank accounts, vehicle registrations, home loan paperwork and other property documents and place them in a binder for safe-keeping. Write down a list of heirs with their phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses so your attorney doesn’t have to search for them.
How to Prepare for Your Own Succession
You’ve likely seen how tough a succession can be for a family first-hand. We all die one day and there are a number of things you can do to make the process easier for your heirs.
Begin estate planning. Speak with an attorney as soon as you can to begin your estate planning process. Draft a will and outline your wishes for when you pass. Let someone in your family know where your important documents are and the location of property. It’s recommended that you keep a binder that details where everything is and your heir’s information and store it in a safe place such as a gun safe or bank box at your local bank. If you name an executor in your will, be sure they are aware of their duties and make their job as easy as possible. Remember, they will be mourning you as well and may not be thinking clearly when they begin gathering your paperwork for the attorney. Many executors enter an attorney’s office with absolutely no idea where property is located, who the heirs are or why they were named as the executor of the estate. This slows the process drastically and makes it easy to accidentally leave items out of the succession paperwork.
Should I Hire a Louisiana Succession Attorney?
Filing a succession in Louisiana without a lawyer is a tough task. Louisiana succession law is complicated and you may encounter a situation that you don’t know how to overcome. You will have to file the correct petitions and get the right people to sign. One mistake and you may have to start over.
If you’re wondering how to do a succession in Louisiana without a lawyer, you may want to reconsider and at least set up a free consultation with a lawyer who specializes in Louisiana successions.
Free consultations can be a great way to gauge your ability to file a succession on your own. Succession attorneys can be expensive, but they can also save you a lot of headache. They know the law and can make the entire process easier for you.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide legal advice. Contact an attorney with any legal questions as this blog post does not give legal advice.
Louisiana Successions are Complex
Let us Help!
Attorney R. Jerome Andries
Message Me: Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com
Call Me: (318) 269-5857
Site: Andries Law Firm