Who Should NOT Have a Will?

Recently, a Louisiana resident passed away. He had one son (who lived in Illinois) and the deceased father, trying to make things simple for his son to inherit, wrote a Louisiana last will and testament leaving his estate to his only son.

The son and I were talking on the telephone. The son was under the assumption that it would be a piece of cake to transfer Dad's $100,000 home and $3,000 bank account into son's name - that's all Dad had.

I told him that a judicial proceeding would be required to transfer the property into his name, and to gain access to the frozen $3,000 bank account. He said, quite simply, that he did not have the funds to pay for the court-supervised Succession process, in which lawyers are necessary to prepare and file all of the court pleadings and see to it that the judge signs the appropriate court orders which must be recorded in the real estate records of the parish where the property is located.

In the back of my mind, I was telling myself that things could have been simpler if his father died WITHOUT a last will and testament. Louisiana has a simpler estate settlement procedure when someone dies without a last will and testament AND the value of their assets is less than $125,000. Property can be transferred through an affidavit procedure and NO pleadings need to be filed at the courthouse.

Again, this procedure is only applicable if someone does not have a last will and testament AND they have minimal assets. If someone DOES have a last will and testament, then the law says judicial proceedings are necessary in order to have a judge determine that the WIll is valid and followed.