Many people ask me after a loved one dies, "Do we really have to go through a court process just to get access to may parent's account?"
Sometimes children think that because their parent had a Will, or because their affairs are simple and everyone is in agreement, that a probate is not necessary. But those children are often wrong.
Why is probate necessary?
It doesn't make sense to some people that the government must oversee the management and distribution of an estate after someone dies, even if the person laid out their wishes clearly in a last will and testament. And whenever the government gets involved with anything, it can get complicated and burdensome and inefficient.
Can't I Just Show Dad's Will to the Banker and the Broker - And They Will Transfer Everything To Me?
Can't I Just Take Dad's Will To The Clerk of Court and They Will Put Dad's Property In My Name?
There are very specific probate procedures that must take place between attorneys, judges, heirs, clerks of court, and others, that must take place when someone dies with assets in their name. Of course the banks and brokerage firms understand all of these probate rules and they realize they could be liable for handing over funds to the wrong people, so the banks and brokerage firms won't "unfreeze" and account and hand it over to the heirs without the proper court orders ordering them to do so.
To get these court orders, procedures that the Louisiana Legislature has created must be followed. There's no getting around it and there's no simpler way.
Bottom line: If you have things in your name (a home or accounts, for example), when you die, there is no getting around the court proceedings. And your loved ones will be forced to hire an attorney like myself to guide the family through the court proceedings the right way.
Are there legal strategies that you can implement ahead of time to help your family avoid this probate trap? Yes, but you have to have a legal program put in place the right way at the right time in order to simplify your estate settlement and avoid probate.