Guiding Clients Through Life’s
Legal Challenges

My loved one’s succession is being contested. Does the succession need to go to court?

The more property someone has, the more likely their family members are to get into a dispute about those assets when they die. The prospect of a sizable inheritance can bring out aggressive behavior even in people who are typically more passive and cooperative.

For many people, an inheritance may be the only windfall that they can expect to receive late in life. Beyond that, there is often an emotional element to succession challenges. People want to ensure that they properly uphold the last wishes of a loved one who recently died.

When a member of your family or someone excluded from the estate plan wants to challenge the documents or the proposed succession of property, does that mean you will end up in the Louisiana succession courts?

You can resolve many disputes outside of court

While some succession issues may inevitably lead to litigation, others are possible to settle outside of the court system. Sometimes, a review of documents or family records can be enough to settle a dispute that could potentially lead to succession litigation.

For example, one beneficiary may have had very outdated documents in their possession, and those documents make them suspect that the will read after the funeral was not correct. They may only need to talk to the witnesses present at the signing of the new documents to affirm that the changes were not the result of fraud or undue influence.

Other times, bringing in professionals, like appraisers or forensic accountants, can help those challenging certain succession decisions accept the choices made by the testator or the person managing the succession process.

What if you have to go to court?

Sometimes, disputes do end up requiring the intervention of a succession court judge. You will typically need to prepare evidence regarding the validity of the estate documents or the reasoning behind certain succession decisions to improve your chances of success in court. Expert testimony, professional analysis and estate planning documents can all help justify the decisions made and actions taken by the person handling the succession process.

Understanding how to respond to challenges during succession proceedings will help you better manage disputes as they arise.