What Are Probate Costs In Louisiana?

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Another tough question to answer accurately is "What does a Succession cost in Louisiana?"

Succession or probate costs can vary significantly from matter to matter. One of the reasons probate costs in Louisiana can vary so much is that, as far as the attorney fees go, Louisiana is a "reasonable fee" state. In many other states, probate attorney fees are based on a percentage of the total assets in the estate.

Costs typically included in every Louisiana Succession matter include court filing fees, attorney fees, and real estate recording fees. Costs that are not always incurred but can add to the total cost of the Louisiana probate matter include accounting fees for executor accounting and tax accounting, bonding costs paid to an insurance company, and appraisal costs to value real estate or other Succession assets.

There are at least three different ways that attorneys and law firm charge to complete a probate in Louisiana. First, there is the traditional "bill for the attorney's time." Consumers complain about the unknown and inefficient aspects of hourly billing. You get charged for every discussion, phone call, email, car ride, error, and anything else that has to do with your matter. There are countless stories of consumers getting bills from their attorneys and the consumer cannot believe that the attorney spent as much time on their matter as indicated. In addition, in billable hour matters, the client is often reluctant to call or email the attorney to get questions answered for fear that the client will be "on the clock" and it will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars simply to get a question answered, particularly if the question requires some attorney research.

Other attorneys charge for their legal services in a Louisiana Succession based on a percentage of the value of the assets in the estate. Like I said earlier, this method is required in some states outside of Louisiana. So, if an estate is worth $1.5 million, and the attorney says he charges 2.5% of the estate for his or her legal services, then the attorney fees alone will be $37,500.

Note that married couples will go through the Louisiana probate process twice - once at each death. So if the family can avoid these probate costs which must be incurred at each death, the family can likely incur some significant costs.

Other attorneys who provide legal services to the survivors of a deceased in a Succession will charge based on a "fixed amount." Consumers like this because there is certainty, regardless of how many phone calls, discussions, or emails take place.

While I can't give a definite cost to expect, I can tell you there will not be a Succession matter handled that costs less than four figures (thousands). Many Successions in Louisiana cost the estate five figures (tens of thousands). And some Louisiana probate matters will cost the estate six figures (hundreds of thousands). 

Yes, there are ways that you can pre-plan to avoid probate. It simply requires that you get educated and take the right action.