If you’ve found this article, our thoughts are with you with the loss of your loved one. It can be difficult to figure out which parish you need to file the succession and you may need to contact an attorney to help you with this process.
It’s easy for someone to own property in multiple parishes, whether it be movable property such as vehicles and boats or immovable property such as homes or camps for example. This is especially true for people who have been married more than once. We all move multiple times throughout our lives and end up with property scattered all over Louisiana. This makes it difficult to determine which parish you need to file a succession in Louisiana.
The succession process can be a headache and you don’t need to the added stress of filing in the wrong parish and having to start over. This mistake happens often and can cost extra money and delay the succession proceedings.
At this point you may want to speak with an experienced Louisiana attorney as this blog post is not intended to provide legal advice or to replace the help of an attorney.
Which Parish to File a Succession in Louisiana
The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides us with insight into the issue:
“A proceeding to open a succession shall be brought in the district court of the parish where the deceased was domiciled at the time of his death.
If the deceased was not domiciled in the state at the time of his death, his succession may be opened in the district court of any parish where:
- Immovable property of the deceased is situated; or,
- Movable property of the deceased is situated, if he owned no immovable property in the state at the time of his death.”
There are a few things you must understand first. The domicile of an individual is the place of his or her habitual residence. It’s where the person intends to make their home. You can own and live in multiple homes, but can only have one domicile in Louisiana. Here’s a helpful example of domicile in Louisiana: Jane owns four homes, one in East Baton Rouge Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Lafayette Parish and Rapides Parish. Her main home is in Lafayette parish. She holds herself out as living there, works in the parish, receives mail in the parish and pays taxes in the parish. Jane dies in Lafayette parish. Jane’s heirs will have to file her succession in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana.
Immovable property can be summed up as buildings, homes, camps, etc. Movable property would be along the lines of vehicles, boats, RVs, etc.
If the deceased lived in Louisiana at the time of his or her death, the succession must be filed in the parish where they were domiciled or lived as their main residence. It doesn’t matter that they may have had multiple homes, the court will look to where the individual intended to live at the time of their death.
If the deceased did not live in Louisiana at the time of his or her death, but owned immovable property in Louisiana – the succession must be filed in the parish where the immovable property is located.
If the deceased did not live in Louisiana and did not own immovable property, but owned movable property – the succession can be filed in any parish where the movable property was situated.
This can be a confusing concept, especially if the deceased owned movable and immovable property in multiple parishes. The court system will not view lack of legal knowledge as an excuse to any mistakes made, you must file the succession in the correct parish in Louisiana or you could face adverse issues.
While the majority of Louisiana successions are filed in the parish where the person dies, there are other examples where this is not the case.
Here’s a list of things to consider when determining which parish to file a succession in Louisiana:
- Did the deceased live in Louisiana?
- What Parish?
- If did not live in Louisiana, did they own immovable property?
- If did not live in Louisiana and did not own immovable property, did they own movable property in Louisiana?
What Happens if I File in the Wrong Parish?
Filing a Louisiana succession in the wrong parish is a huge mistake. If the judge catches your error immediately, they will send it back to you and you will have to file in the correct parish. However, if no one catches the mistake, it could be filed and not noticed until years later.
You could then face some strict consequences if the succession was never technically filed correctly. It may end up costing more to hire a Louisiana succession attorney to fix the mistake.
Should I Hire an Attorney to File a Succession in Louisiana?
It is highly recommended that you hire an attorney that specializes in Louisiana successions or probate law to assist you in filing a Louisiana succession. Attorneys have specialized training and successions are not just fill-in-the-blank procedures. They require you to know a great deal of law to know where to file, what petitions to draft and more.
While you may be able to figure out how to file a succession in Louisiana without an attorney, it could end up costing you much more headache and money in the long run. It’s easy to set up a free consultation with an attorney. Here’s an article that gives you tips on hiring an attorney.
How Much do Succession Attorneys Charge in Louisiana?
Each succession has its own unique issues and complications which makes it hard to get an accurate quote without first sitting down with an attorney to discuss your options. Attorney fees for Louisiana successions can easily range from $850 for an Affidavit to $1,500 for a regular succession and upwards of $10,000 for a hotly contested succession where heirs are litigating. The average everyday succession usually costs around $2,500 plus filing fees and that depends on the parish because filing fees are different in each parish.
Is a Louisiana Succession Required by Law?
A succession transfers property from the deceased to his or her heirs who can then take possession of the property. Most property has to go through a succession whether a person dies with or without a will. However, there are certain types of property that doesn’t have to go through the succession or probate process. Vehicles such as life insurance policies, IRAs and annuities are paid out to beneficiaries and go straight to the beneficiaries without having to file a succession. This is one reason everyone should purchase life insurance for their families.
All other assets that a person may own will likely need to go through the succession process in order for the heirs to gain ownership. A few examples include: vehicles, trailers, RVs, electronics, homes, camps, rental properties, bank accounts, etc. Heirs will not have access to these properties without going through probate in Louisiana.
If you are unsure about whether you even need to file a succession in Louisiana, contact an attorney for a free consultation and they will be able to give you a definitive answer.
Disclaimer: This article does not intend to give legal advice in any way. Speak with an attorney regarding legal advice as this blog is not your attorney, nor does it intend to represent you in any way.