When someone close to you dies, you will have to handle many practical matters in addition to grieving. Whether you are a beneficiary of their estate or an heir with a right to an inheritance in a situation where someone did not leave a will, you may have an interest in someone’s estate.
Louisiana succession laws dictate what happens with someone’s property when they die and how their loved ones and family members should settle affairs. Many people find the succession process confusing and do not understand what it requires. There are typically six steps that most people with an interest in an estate will have to complete, although some situations are simpler or more complex than others.
Consult with someone who knows the law
Succession laws in Louisiana govern what happens to someone’s property and how their family members handle financial obligations. Estate planning documents like wills can also play a role in what happens to property. Speaking with a succession attorney familiar with Louisiana state law and capable of interpreting all of the necessary estate documents will help you make sense of your responsibilities and rights.
Determine how to transfer property to the correct heirs
You need to understand state law and the estate documents to determine who should receive what from the estate. You may also need to have a plan in place to transfer complex property or assets that may trigger conflict between family members.
File paperwork with the Louisiana courts
To initiate succession proceedings, you will have to notify the courts of the death and your intent to handle the estate. Filing the right paperwork will start the process and ensure appropriate court oversight during the succession process.
Locate or discover the assets you must distribute
Sometimes, people leave behind extensive lists of their property that you can review. Other times, you need to physically go through their belongings to find the valuable assets and the possessions with emotional value to family members. You may also need to take the steps to secure physical properties so that it doesn’t disappear before you have a chance to bequeath them to the appropriate party.
Review the title for significant assets
Vehicles, real estate and other major assets will likely have ownership paperwork. You will need to look at those documents or review the title history for certain assets to ensure that the estate has the right to transfer that property.
Follow through with the appropriate distribution of assets
Once you have fulfilled all of someone’s previous responsibilities and cooperated with the courts, you can begin to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries and heirs of the estate. Following these steps will limit the risk of conflict related to succession proceedings and also diminish the likelihood that you will suffer financial or legal consequences due to your role as executor.