Over the years, thousands of families have contacted us to start the discussions on settling the estate after their loved one passed away. This post describes what the family should bring to the estate lawyer's office in its first visit with the Succession attorney.
Let's provide an example. Say Mom died leaving three adult children. Mom had a last will and testament. A couple of weeks after Mom dies, one of the children realizes that accounts are frozen, they cannot sell Mom's home or other property, and they can't even sell her vehicle. So they contact an estate attorney to start the process of settling Mom's estate. What should they bring the attorney?
Every estate settlement is different, and each one requires different documentation, but you should be prepared to, at least, get the following together to bring to the lawyer who will be handling the Succession settling.
Last Will and Testament. The Will often dictates the steps that are required to complete a probate. Without knowing the terms of the Will, we cannot lay out the steps needed to complete these matters. You should bring in the ACTUAL original last will and testament, not just a copy. The actual will gets filed at the courthouse often within a a few days after the 1st meeting with the attorney.
Other relevant estate documents. Some people pass away having previously created trusts, marriage contracts, or were involved in prior probates which reflect who one owns assets. Bottom line - if a legal document looks important, bring it to the probate meeting at the estate attorney's office.
List of Assets and Debts. Many people, when they pass away, own real estate, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and vehicles. The detailed particulars of these assets and debts need to be documented on the appropriate probate pleadings.
The People Involved. In our example where Mom died with three adult children, it's important that all three children participate in the first visit, even if it is via conference call because they are not physically or geographically able to be present in the attorney's office. When all of the relevant parties can hear the importance of following the required procedure, they will have a collective appreciation regarding what is necessary to complete all matters related to the estate - from start to finish. If one or more parties does not participate, then inevitably, that party will have questions that cannot be answered by other family members, causing more delay and frustration. Get everyone there.
This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450