Baton Rouge Succession lawyer

How To Find Out What Accounts Deceased Person Owned

Occasionally, after someone dies, the family starts to question what their deceased relative really owned. Sometimes we hear statements from children or other relatives like:

"I thought Dad had more CDs at the bank."

"I thought Dad had another savings account."

"I thought Dad owned stock in some other companies."

"I thought Dad had an annuity and a life insurance policy."

Well, there is no central registry that you can go to and determine everything that someone owned when they died. But there are both informal and formal ways that you can dig and determine what someone owned on the date of their death.

There are a couple of obvious formal ways that you can try and discover additional assets. First, go back and look at the last few years of their tax returns. They would likely have received tax reporting statements from financial institutions that show that accounts were owned. Second, check their mail. If they owned financial accounts, it's likely they may received account statements in the mail.

And then there is the formal way to discover someone's assets after they died. Let's use an example of Dad, who died with a last will and testament. Dad names Son as executor. People are questioning the fact that Dad owned additional accounts. Once Son works with the lawyers and the court system to get confirmed as the executor, the courthouse will issue certified copies of Letters of Independent Executorship. Son can then go to every financial institution where he thinks Dad may have had an account, and the "Letters of Independent Executorship" require the third parties to disclose Dad's account information to Son, who is the independent executor.

So, there is no central registry one can go to and figure out what someone owned when they died, but there are both informal and formal ways to locate whether a deceased person owned additional accounts or other assets. Your estate planning and estate settlement attorney can help you get the proper court authority and make the right kinds of inquiries to expedite this process. And ideally, none of this is necessary if the deceased person would have, during his or her lifetime, maintained a current inventory of assets and communicated that inventory to the appropriate family members or other loved ones.

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.

Paul Rabalais
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450

The Louisiana Succession: The Basics

What is a Louisiana Succession and when is it required?

When a resident of Louisiana dies, it's likely that they owned some things. Perhaps they owned a home, other real estate, bank accounts, maybe some stock in a company, and perhaps a vehicle. Well, it's not uncommon for some people to claim that they are entitled to own and use these things. 

The Louisiana Succession is the court-supervised judicial proceeding that must take place when someone dies with assets in their name. It takes place whether or not the person left a last will and testament. Now, some assets can be transferred without having to go through a Succession, like a life insurance policy or an individual retirement account which had designated beneficiaries. But most assets, like the ones described above, must be listed in a Succession proceeding and a judge will ultimately order the division or distribution of assets.

After someone dies, and prior to the Succession, no one can access the funds or stock of the deceased, and the real estate owned by the deceased cannot be sold or transferred into anyone else's name. Some people ask, "Can't I just take Dad's Will to the bank and ask them for his money?" That won't work. The bank will not release Dad's accounts without the appropriate and certified Succession court orders that have been signed by a judge as part of the Succession process.

So if you have had a loved one pass away, and you feel you are entitled to own some or all of the assets of the deceased, then the most efficient way for you to get things done is for all of the parties to work with a Louisiana Succession attorney to create and implement a plan to gather all of the necessary asset and family information, and then follow the court rules to complete the Succession matters cooperatively.