The Affidavit of Small Succession or Louisiana small estate affidavit can be used to transfer property of a deceased in certain events. The affidavit allows you to file a small succession without having to go through the court process.
It’s simpler and a cost effective way to transfer property after a loved one has died.
While the Louisiana small estate affidavit is simple and can save money, the estate must first qualify in order to use the form. Here are the Louisiana small estate affidavit requirements:
Must be a Small Succession:
- Estate value of $125,000 or less at the date of death; or
- The date of death is 20 years before filing the small succession affidavit, CCP 3421
How Do You Value an Estate?
Placing a value on an estate is not a simple task. You will have to take into consideration all movable and immovable property and come up with a figure. Add all vehicles, home, home furnishings, outdoor equipment, bank accounts, etc.
You can hire someone to help you value the estate if you need. However, this may mean that the estate is worth more than $125,000 if there is a large amount of property.
Once you come up with a value for the estate and it falls under the $125,000 threshold, you are ready to begin the succession process.
Next, we must look at CCP 3431 to determine whether or not you must go through the court process. You can have a small succession and still be required to go to court.
CCP 3431 provides a guideline for small successions that can avoid going to court. “It shall not be necessary to open judicially the small succession of a person:
- Domiciled in Louisiana who died intestate (without a will); or
- Domiciled outside of Louisiana who died intestate or whose testament has been probated by court order of another state; and
- Whose sole heirs are the following:
- His descendants,
- His ascendants,
- His siblings, or descendants thereof,
- His surviving spouse,
- His legatees under a testament probated by court order of another state.
In short, they lived in Louisiana and died without a will or lived in another state and that state probated. There’s a good chance if the estate is under $125,000, there was no will and property is going to one of the usual heirs then you will be able to use the Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Small Estate Affidavit?
You don’t technically need a Louisiana succession attorney to file the form, but you may want to consult with one to help you fill out the paperwork. Most attorneys will help you with the form without charging you a fortune.
It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney to make sure the estate is able to use the form to transfer property.
Download the Free Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit
Next, you will want to download a free Louisiana small estate affidavit and begin filling it out. You shouldn’t have to pay for the form as it is quite simple and you can find free versions everywhere.
Here are the steps to fill out the form:
- Write in the name of the deceased or person who died.
- Write in the State and Parish where the person who died lived at the time of death.
- Don’t fill in the date, that is for the notary public.
- Write in the names of 2 individuals who are signing the petition. The surviving spouse must be one of the Affiants if there is one.
- Write in the date the person died in day, month and year format.
- Attach death certificate.
- Write in the deceased’s address at the time of their death. That’s basically what “domicile” means.
- Check the box for single, married or widow to indicate marital status.
- Write in marital history of the deceased which includes current and ex spouse’s names and divorce date to the best of your knowledge.
- Write the surviving spouse’s current domicile if there is a surviving spouse.
- Section 7 requires the names, addresses, relationship and percentage of inheritance each individual is entitled.
- Section 11 requires you to cross out one option and write in who owns the property in undivided interests if there is more than one heir.
- Section 12 states there is no need for an administration of this estate or in the alternative a Court of Competent Jurisdiction outside of Louisiana administered the estate.
- The two affiants and two witnesses must sign the document in front of a Notary Public. Don’t sign before taking to a notary or it will invalidate the document.
The Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit can be taken to third parties such as banks or other financial institutions to distribute the deceased’s property according to the document instructions.
The Small Print You May Not Be Aware Of
There’s a few things you must be aware of when filling out the Affidavit of Small Succession.
Here are the Basics:
- Must have at least 2 affiants.
- Surviving spouse: they must be a party to this affidavit. At least one major heir must join the surviving spouse in completing the affidavit.
- No surviving spouse: 2 major heirs can use the form.
- Only 1 major heir and No surviving spouse: a second person with “actual knowledge” of the matters may sign
- A “Major Heir” is an heir that is 18 years of age or older.
- Your attorney should try to get every major heir to sign the document.
Immovable Property – Don’t File Too Soon
If the deceased owned immovable property at the time of death, don’t file the affidavit until at least 90 days have passed from the date of death or it won’t be effective until the 90 days have passed.
Too Many Heirs For Document
The Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit has space for 6 heirs. If there are more, you can attach a supplementary list to the document. Also, you may want to note whether the heirs are over 23 years of age and whether or not they have physical or mental disabilities for purposes of forced heirship.
You must include the full legal description of all property owned by the deceased. This includes all immovable and movable property. You must also state the value of each item and if it is considered separate or community property. You can read more about community property versus separate property HERE if you need help.
Also, state whether the property is subject to usufruct. Here’s a quick guide that explains USUFRUCT in Louisiana.
The Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit is an easy and cost effective way to file a succession and transfer property after someone dies. The form itself is fairly straight-forward, but can be confusing if you’ve never filled one out.
You can speak with a Louisiana Succession Attorney to walk you through the process and they can even help you get the required signatures and complete the property descriptions.
Can you do a Louisiana Small Estate Affidavit without an attorney? Probably, as long as the succession is simple, but it’s always a great idea to at least get a free consultation with a Louisiana succession attorney to make sure you do it right.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not to be considered legal advice. It does not intend to give legal advice, nor should it be taken that way. You must speak with an attorney to give legal advice.