Louisiana Probate

Louisiana Succession Law Allows Detailed Descriptive List To Be Sealed

There is a new Louisiana Succession law in place for 2017 that allows families to seal the Detailed Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities, which has always been open for anyone in the public to see.

Until recently, as part of every Louisiana probate, the family was required to hire attorneys to, among other things, prepare a detailed listing of all assets and debts. This is referred to as the "Detailed Descriptive List."

Since all Probate documents are public record, this list of assets was available for anyone to see, including excluded family members, identity thieves, and others.

Now, a participant in the court proceeding can request that the Detailed Desciptive List be sealed in the court record. Even when sealed, a copy must be provided to the surviving spouse and certain heirs. 

While this step can keep family financial information somewhat private, it does not eliminate the cost and the delays already involved in the Louisiana Succession/Probate process.  Many families use trusts to keep family information private, while avoidng the costs and delays of the Louisiana Succession.

Paul Rabalais
866-491-3884

What is "The Court?", an Executor Asks?

I was talking to a colleague recently. He is the executor of his father's probate/Succession. His father had died years ago and there was still an account in the father's name that needed to be accessed and distributed to the children.

So the executor took it upon himself to gather up some paperwork (a copy of the Will and a death certificate), and he trucked on down to the place that had his father's account.

As I knew he would, he quickly ran into a dead end. He was told, "In order to access these funds, we need legal documents certified by the court within the last 90 days." 

He got frustrated because he did not know what "the court" meant. Should he go to the Supreme Court, should he go to the Clerk of Court? Should he just walk into a courthouse downtown? He was given no direction as to where or what "the court" was.

He spend two long days going to 12 different offices before he finally got what he needed. He was told that he needed certified "Letters Testamentary." But that was the wrong instructions. Letters Testamentary pretty much went away 15 years ago. Really what he needed were copies of the "Letters of Independent Executorship," certified by the parish clerk of court within the previous 90 days. 

The Louisiana Succession procedure is typically frustrating to the lay person, particularly when they try to do things themselves or even when they try to make sense of the archaic and inefficient probate rules.

When a "Letter" is not a "Letter" in a Louisiana Probate or Succession Proceeding

I was talking to the child of a deceased mother recently. Mom died about a month ago and the Son was, on his own, trying to settle Mom's estate. Mom had two bank accounts, three certificates of deposit, and an investment account. The total of Mom's estate was about $500,000. 

When the son went to the banks and the brokerage firms, the son was told that Mom's accounts were frozen, and the son was told, "You need to bring us Letters Testamentary. An attorney can give you that."

So the Son calls my office and talks to me. He asked me, "I'm settling Mom's estate and they are telling me I need a Letter from an attorney so that I can access Mom's accounts. Can I come by your office and get that Letter?"

So, here's the explanation that you'll hear from me when you talk to me about getting a "Letter" after a loved one dies in order to access the accounts:

  • Letters Testamentary are court documents. When Mom died, she left a Last Will and Testament naming her son as the executor. When Mom dies, Son has no power initially. Son must hire a lawyer, have a number of court pleadings prepared and signed by multiple parties, and this Petition to Confirm an Executor gets presented to a judge. If the judge sign the Order confirming the Son as the Executor, the clerk of court will issue certified copies of "Letters Testamentary" (also known as "Letters"). This is what the executor needs to present to banks, brokerage firms, and other third parties so that funds and investments will be removed from Mom's frozen account and placed in a new Estate account.
  • Letters Testamentary are Never Used Anymore. Even though the bank insists on getting "Letters Testamentary," the banker is using old and incorrect terminology. Nowadays, executors can be "independent executors" which means that while the probate is still necessary, every single action that an independent executor need take (such as paying the water bill or selling a vehicle, need not be approved first by the judge who presides over the Succession proceeding. Once an independent executor is confirmed as such by the judge, the clerk of court issues documents called "Letters of Independent Executorship." 
  • If No Last Will. If a person dies with no last will and testament, then the court appoints an Administrator, or, if all heirs agree, and Independent Administrator, and the parish clerk of court issues Letters of Administration or Letters of Independent Administration.

Sound confusing? It's confusing if you don't deal with this stuff on a daily basis. If you are in a situation where you are in charge of settling an estate, don't go it alone. There is too much at risk - including the relationships of family members left behind, and not to mention the legal costs that are involved when you make mistakes and have to start all over again. Get some good help from an Estate Administration attorney who has decades of experience helping families get their loved ones' estates settled. You'll be glad you did.

Seven New Louisiana Estate Matters That Walked Into Rabalais Estate Planning During The Last Two Days

I have been fortunate to have seven different families, from Metairie, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Gonzales, and Zachary. ask me to help them with various estate matters over the last two days. Each family has a different situation and a different concern, so I thought I'd give you a general overview of their problems and how we are solving them so that if you have a similar problem you will know that you are not alone and there is someone that can help who has helped others in similar situations.

Here are the seven different situations that families have retained me in the last two days to help them:

  1. Mom's Investment Account Frozen. A gentleman came and met with me two days ago. His mother had passed away and, as a result, her investment account was frozen. Mom and the son had the same investment advisor. The investment advisor suggested that the son come see me so that we could complete the probate (also known in Louisiana as "Succession") to obtain the necessary court orders which will allow the family to have access to Mom's currently frozen investment account.
  2. Want To Protect Each Other and Teenage Child. A couple came in that had been referred by another financial advisor. The couple had a teenage child and wanted to make sure that their "legal affairs were in order" because they had done no estate legal planning in the past. We will be setting up an estate legal program for this couple to make legal matters easy or nonexistent when one spouse dies, and then making sure that guardians and trustees are named for their minor child should something happen to the parents before the child is an adult.
  3. Couple With No Children. Working with a couple that has been married for decades with no children. They have some pets that are important to them. We will be setting up an estate legal program so that when one of them dies, matters will be under the continued control of the surviving spouse, and that after they both pass away, funds will be set aside for the care of their pets, with the remainder of their estate being divided among four charitable causes that they care deeply about. Nice and fun couple - organized too!
  4. Blended Family. Working with a couple each of whom was in their second marriage. They each had one child. The children lived geographically far apart and had not spent much time together. The couple wanted to make sure that protections were in place for each other so that when one dies, there is no interruption from the children, and then when both spouses die, things are in place for the two children to inherit outside of probate and other court legal proceedings being necessary. Another really nice couple.
  5. Protect Mom's Money From Nursing Homes. Working with a family where Mom is currently residing in an assisted living facility. The family realized that all assisted living facilities in Louisiana are private-pay, but they are worried that if Mom's conditions worsens, Mom will have to move to a skilled nursing facility and be forced to spend $6,000 monthly or more on her care.  We are setting up a legal plan for the family so that Mom's money will be protected if she has to reside in a nursing home in the future. Plus, probate will be avoided when Mom dies.
  6. Execute Will. I wrote a Will for a woman many years ago. She passed away recently. I met with the family and they retained us to execute Mom's Will and complete Mom's Succession so that the home and Mom's CDs, and the vehicle, could be transferred 100% into Dad's name. We are also updating all of Dad's estate planning legal documents because he wanted to change how things would be disbursed upon his death.
  7. Plan For Two Children. Now working with a gentleman who contact me after "watching some of my videos and reading some of my blog posts online." He has a rather large estate, much of it in real estate, and he wants to make sure that it goes to his two children the right way and he wants it to be easy for his two children to inherit the property. We also had some discussions about capital gains tax and estate tax to make sure that his children would avoid as much tax as possible as this property gets transitioned to the next generation.

While many people think that estate planning is the same for everyone, you can see from reading these seven examples that every family and every individual has a unique situation that requires unique solutions. If you have an estate that you want to protect for your family, feel free to give my office a call at 866-491-3884 to start a conversation about the easiest ways to protect what you have for your loved ones.

Paul Rabalais

 

Two Successions For Alexandria, Louisiana Family: Child Dies After Parents Pass Away

I was contacted recently by the son of a set of parents who died while living in Alexandria, Louisiana. The son told me that his mother died 12 years ago, and his father died four months ago. The parents owned three homes and they also had a bank account. Unfortunately, after the father recently died, another son passed away (without a last will and testament) just a few weeks after the father died. The surviving son was worried about completing the necessary Louisiana Successions, particularly how the deceased son's three children might be affected.

We determined that neither parent had ever signed a last will and testament. So, we created the following plan to get both Estates/Probates/Successions handled without a bureaucratic nightmare. Here is the plan we developed:

  1. Son Appointed Independent Administrator. First, we will prepare the necessary Agreements and court pleadings so that the surviving son can be appointed by the appropriate judge as the Independent Administrator of both the Succession of Mom and the Succession of Dad. The court will issue documents called, "Letters of Independent Administration."
  2. Establish Estate Accounts. Once appointed by the court as the Independent Administrator, the surviving son can establish Estate Accounts in the name of each Succession, at the bank of son's choosing. He will then have the authority to move the money from his parents' account into the estate accounts.
  3. Sell the Homes. As Independent Administrator, Son will be able to sell the three homes that were owned by his parents. The proceeds of the sale of these homes will be placed in the estate accounts.
  4. Pay Estate Expenses. Son will use these estate funds to pay necessary estate expenses.
  5. Judgment of Possession. Once the final accountings, detailed descriptive lists of assets and debts, and other court pleadings are prepared and filed with the court, and once the judge's office is satisfied that all court documents are in order, the judge will sign a "Judgment of Possession" which orders third parties to transfer estate assets to the heirs. In this case, the surviving son will inherit one-half of the remaining estate assets, and the deceased son's three children will inherit the other one-half of the assets.

The son wanted to work with an attorney that knew exactly what he was doing, because the son knew that one wrong move could delay the Succession for months or years, causing additional costs, and perhaps even ruining family relationships. He said he wanted to make sure that everything was done "by the book" so that no one could complain about his actions as the court-appointed Independent Administrator.

The son was also pleased that we would be able to complete these Successions without court appearances and without unnecessary travel by our attorneys or by the heirs.

If you have had a family member pass away, and you have other family members who all have good relationships and you want to make sure they stay that way by completing the Louisiana Succession in the most efficient manner possible, you may want to give our office a call at 866-491-3884 and start a conversation about a plan to complete these matters the right way.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Family Opens Succession Estate Account to Collect Estate Funds

We've been working on a Louisiana Succession for the last several weeks. Dad passed away having left a last will and testament naming Son as executor, and leaving all of the assets to his four children.

The children were confused about the steps that needed to be taken because they had gone to several of Dad's banks. Some banks would not give the children any information. Some banks told the children they needed "a letter from the attorney." And some banks started processing the accounts instantly so they could be transferred to the children. There was also a home and some stock involved. They came to me to sort it all out. After about two hours of talking, digging, and a few phone calls to a few banks, I revealed the following steps that needed to be completed to get Dad's estate (or probate or Succession - whatever you want to call it) settled.

Here are the steps we are going through.

  1. Son Confirmed as Independent Executor. We prepared all of the court petitions and filings to enable a judge to sign the appropriate court orders confirming that the Son was the executor. Since the Will authorized the Son to act as an "independent executor," the court will issue court documents called "Letters of Independent Executorship." Even though the probate is still necessary, being confirmed as an "independent" executor is better than being an executor, because an independent executor can take more actions (such as paying debts or selling a vehicle) without having to ask a judge for permission every time the executor needs to do something.
  2. Open Estate Account. Once the initial court orders are issued, Son can go to the financial institution of his choosing and open an estate account. Then, Son can go to the various banks and other financial institutions and collect the funds from the frozen accounts, and deposit those funds directly into the estate account.
  3. Detailed Descriptive List. The family will get us the necessary information so that we can prepare the formal accountings including the Detailed Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities. A judge won't allow assets to be transferred to the heirs until all of the Assets and Debts and Expenses are itemized the right way in this Detailed Descriptive List.
  4. Judgment of Possession. One of the last things that will happen in a Louisiana Succession is that the judge will sign the Judgment of Possession that we prepare and that all of the heirs sign off on. This judgment orders the executor and banks and other third parties to transfer remaining assets to the four children. The home will be listed as an asset of the Succession which must be transferred to the four children. This judgment will be recorded in the real estate records of the parish where the property is located - formally retitling the property into the names of the four children - so they can sell it when they are ready.
  5. IRAs. An IRA is one of those accounts where a beneficiary can be designated. Since Dad named the four children as the designated beneficiaries, the four children can work with the financial institution to have Dad's IRA transferred to the four Inherited IRAs. The children can elect to take taxable distributions over their lifetime of they wish, deferring the income tax while the investments continue to grow.
  6. Tax. The family was relieved that no federal estate tax was due since Dad's estate was well under the $5.45 million estate tax exemption. The only tax consequence is that the children will include in their taxable income the distributions that they get from what previously was Dad's IRA.

Completing a Louisiana Succession can be tricky. Getting the wrong advice or working with the wrong people can add months or years to an already difficult process. Check us out if you have a loved one who has passed away, and you and all of the other heirs want to streamline the estate settlement process.

Why To Promptly Complete Succession After Death of Loved One

I was consulted on a Louisiana Succession matter today from a Houma, Louisiana family. Mom passed away about two years ago and her Succession was never complete. After Mom died, the family thought, "There's no need to complete a Succession after Mom's death because Dad has no plans to sell the house or other real estate or stock, and he already has access to their joint bank accounts."

The problem that occurred was that after Mom died and before her Succession was complete, two of Mom's heirs passed away. These two heirs each had several heirs. Now, completing Mom's probate in Louisiana will be a nightmare. There are several personalities that are now involved that would not have been involved had the Succession promptly been complete shortly after Mom died.

Some Louisiana families mistakenly believe that if they ignore the necessity to complete a Louisiana Succession long enough, then the requirement to complete the Succession will go away - but there is nothing further from the truth. In fact, the longer a family waits to complete a Louisiana Succession after the death of a family member who owned property, the harder it will be to complete it later as more personalities get involved - all of whom must be parties to this court-supervised probate proceeding.

If you have an interest in completing a Louisiana Succession so that property or investments can be properly re-titled after the death of a loved one or family member, and you'd like to talk to us about retaining us to complete the probate matter, give us a call and we can have a conversation about how easy it is to complete these court proceedings in a way that is efficient and keeps family relationships prospering.

Importance of Documenting the Accounts in a Louisiana Succession After the First Spouse Dies

We started working on a Succession today out of our Baton Rouge office. The wife had passed away. Her husband was talking to me about helping the family get the Succession complete. The couple had been married for about 20 years, but they each had children from their prior marriages. The deceased wife had two children. The surviving husband had three children. The husband said that, for now, the relationships were good between himself and the two sets of children. He was hoping that the fact that his wife's estate needed to be settled would not harm the relationships among all of the parties involved.

Usufruct To Spouse - Naked Ownership To Children

We discussed how her wife left a Will leaving him the lifetime usufruct of her estate, and she named her two children as the naked owners. He stated that he wanted his three children to inherit his estate when he dies.

He brought in a list of all of the various bank accounts and investment accounts. They had about five bank accounts, an investment account at Fidelity Investments, and they owned a home worth about $500,000. We discussed how important it is now to fully document all of the bank accounts, investment accounts, debts, credit card balances, funeral expenses, and medical bills outstanding, because when the husband later dies, the children of the two spouses will look back to how the assets were listed when the first spouse dies to determine who inherits what after the surviving spouse dies.

I gave the husband an example. I said, "Let's assume that the two of you owned bank accounts totaling $200,000 when your wife died. Let's also assume that the two of you had credit card and home equity debt of $40,000. Further, let's assume that there were $15,000 of funeral expenses. What all of this means is that when you die, your estate will owe your wife's children $65,000."

Usufructuary Accounting

He asked me how I came to that calculation. So I said, "Well the $200,000 of bank accounts are community property so you each own half of those accounts. As the usufructuary. you own your half of the accounts, and your estate will owe your wife's children her half of the accounts when you die. So, let's start with the fact that you will owe her children $100,000. Now, since there was $40,000 of community debt, your wife's share of that is $20,000, and you can deduct $20,000 from what you owe her children. And since there were $15,000 of funeral expenses, you can also deduct that amount from what you owe. So, $100,000 minus $20,000 minus $15,000 totals $65,000. That's the amount your estate will owe your wife's children when you die."

Then, we started talking about their home. The surviving husband said he intended to sell the home in a few months and move into something smaller. So I gave him another example regarding their home. I said, "Let's say you sell the home in six months for $520,000. At that moment, you converted a nonconsumable (the home) into a consumable (cash). If you sell the house for $520,000, you will get to keep all of the money, but upon your death, your estate will owe your wife's children $260,000 (one-half of the sales proceeds). 

The mistake many families make is that even though money typically does not go to the children upon the death of the first spouse, it is critical to properly document the assets as part of the Succession process. If things are accurately documented in the Succession (also known as "Probate") when the first spouse dies, it will make it much easier to accurately divide the assets after the surviving spouse dies. Shoddy records after the first spouse's death will likely lead to estate settlement disputes after the surviving spouse dies because the families will often have to "guess" at what assets and accounts existed years earlier when the first spouse died and there are no longer records from years earlier.

Louisiana Statewide Succession and Estate Planning Legal Services

If you want to set up an estate legal program and you live in Louisiana, whether you live in Baton Rouge, Covington, Metairie, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Monroe, or Alexandria, or if you've lost a family member and you want to make sure that the estate settlement is handled the right way to avoid disputes, now or later, among family members, give our Louisiana toll-free number a call at 866-491-3884, and we will be happy to have a conversation about how easy it is to do it the right way, the first time.

How To Complete the Probate of a $1 Million Louisiana Estate

I've handled many Louisiana Successions over the last 25 years. Every one is different and there can be many different ways to "skin the cat." But I want to give you an overview of what typically is involved when a "typical" one million dollar estate is being probated in Louisiana.

First, some terminology - Probate or Succession. When someone dies with assets in their name in the United States, it is up to our government (the judicial system) to see to it that those assets are managed properly and then ultimately transferred to the rightful heirs after all applicable delays and court costs, attorney fees and other administrative expenses have been taken care of. The fact that the government must oversee this is the topic of another discussion.

All other states, except Louisiana, call this court-supervised process "Probate." In Louisiana, it is also commonly referred to as a "Succession." For purposes of this discussion, I will call this procedure in Louisiana - "Probate."

So let's look at an example. Dad died years ago leaving everything to Mom. Now, Mom just passed away three weeks ago. Mom lived in Louisiana when she died. Mom had previously signed a Last Will and Testament ("Will") leaving her entire estate equally to her three children. She named her oldest child ("Sonny") as the executor of her Will. When Mom died, she owned a home worth $300,000, bank accounts valued at $100,000, CDs valued at $200,000, an IRA valued at $150,000, a separate stock account valued at $100,000, an annuity valued at $50,000, US Savings Bonds valued at $50,000, a vehicle valued at $20,000, and other personal effects valued at $30,000. Mom also had a few debts. Mom has two credit cards (each with a $5,000 balance). There are ongoing insurance and maintenance expenses associated with the house. Mom's daughter, Sissy, paid the $10,000 funeral expense out of her own pocket.

So, here are the typical steps involved in settling this million dollar estate.

  1. Attorney For The Children. Generally, each child must have an attorney since all of the children are participants in this court proceeding. For purposes of this situation, let's assume that all of the children are represented by the same attorney. All communications with the attorney will be with all of the children present. There is no conflict between any of the children. If there is any conflict among the children, then different children will have different attorneys and the proceeding will likely move much slower through the court system - in fact, many contested probates never wind up getting fully resolved.
  2. IRA and Annuity. Let's assume that Mom designated her three children as the equal designated beneficiaries on the IRA and the annuity with the particular financial institutions. If so, then the three children can apply directly to these financial institutions to get their benefits. We'll talk taxes later, but the beneficiaries will include distributions they receive from Mom's IRA as taxable income, and they will also have to pay income tax on the gain that was recognized inside of Mom's annuity.
  3. Get Sonny Confirmed as Independent Executor. Court pleadings will be prepared, signed, and filed at the courthouse to open the Probate and to petition to be confirmed as the Independent Executor. Let's assume Mom's Will not only designated Sonny as the executor, but she authorized him to act as an Independent Executor. It is critical that Sonny be confirmed as the Independent Executor so that he can start to gain access to Mom's accounts, pay bills on behalf of the estate, and perhaps sell estate assets that need to be sold. When the judge signs this first court order, the clerk of court will issue certified copies of the "Letters of Independent Executorship."
  4. Open Estate Account. Once Sonny receives the court-issued Letters of Independent Executorship, he will go to a bank and open an Estate Account. Sonny cannot open an estate account until he has these "Letters."  Let's assume he opens the Estate Account at the same bank that Mom used. The bank will open the Estate Account and they will transfer Mom's frozen bank account funds and her frozen CD funds into the estate account. There will be no penalty for early surrender of the CDs when the bank transfers the funds out of Mom's CDs into the Estate Account.
  5. Detailed Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities. The family provides information to the attorney regarding the specifics of Mom's assets and debts when she died. The court requires that a detailed listing of all assets and debts be filed into the court record before a judge can authorize a distribution of estate assets to the heirs.
  6. Separate Stock Account. The children talked and decided that since they have no emotional attachment to the stock that Mom owned, it would be best to sell the stock and divide the proceeds of the sale among the children. Sonny, armed with his Letters of Independent Executorship giving him authorization to sell estate assets, sells the stock. The check from the sale is made out to: Estate of Mom. Sonny deposits this check into the Estate Account at the bank.
  7. Mom's Home. Since all three children have their own homes, the children agree that it would be best to sell the home. The children quickly clean out the house and Sonny, as the Independent Executor, gets with a realtor to list the home for sale. Two months later, they find a buyer to buy the house from the estate. Sonny attends the closing. The check for $300,000 produced at the house closing is payable to "Estate of Mom." Sonny deposits these funds into the estate account.  There is no tax on the sale of the house because, even though Mom and Dad purchased the home years ago for $120,000, the children will enjoy the "step-up in basis" at Mom's death. Since the new basis is the value of the home at Mom's death, and since there is no better way to determine fair market value than what a willing buyer and willing seller agree to shortly after death, it is fair to say that the basis was the sales price ($300,000). So, there was no capital gains tax to be paid upon the sale of the home.
  8. U.S. Savings Bonds. When Mom died, she owned 87 U.S. Savings Bondsthat were valued at $50,000 when Mom died. Mom had originally paid $33,000 for these savings bonds. The children decide to keep things simple by selling all of the bonds. Sonny goes through the process of selling all of the bonds, as the Independent Executor, and depositing those proceeds into the Estate Account. Income tax will have to be paid on the difference between what the US Savings Bonds were sold for ($33,000) and what they were sold for ($50,000). This taxable gain is $17,000.
  9. Mom's Vehicle. The children decide to sell Mom's old Lincoln. Sonny sells the vehicle. The check is payable to Estate of Mom. Check deposited in Estate Account.
  10. Personal Effects. The children get together at Mom's home shortly after Mom died and, informally, agreed on how Mom's personal effects are to be divided. Perhaps Mom may have even communicated to the children, or made an informal list of instructions, regarding her personal effects. Since these personal effects are not "titled," like an account or a piece of property is, the children are satisfied with their own personal division of personal effects. The attorney does not have to get involved in this aspect of settling the probate.
  11. Paying Estate Bills. Sonny will use the funds in the Estate Account to reimburse Sissy for the funeral expenses she incurred, and Sonny will also use the Estate Account to pay off Mom's credit cards, and to pay house maintenance expenses of the home from the time Mom died until the house is sold. Sonny may very well be required to prepare and file a final income tax return for Mom, which will be due April 15 of the year after Mom died.
  12. Executor Fee. As executor, Sonny is entitled to an executor's fee of 2.5% of the Succession Assets. Sonny does the math and concludes that he is entitled to an executor's fee of $25,000. Sonny has a decision to make: Does he collect the $25,000 executor's fee from the estate (he will pay income tax on this amount because he is being compensated for the services he rendered). Or does he waive some or all of the fee and allow the three children to simply inherit the estate assets one-third each without income tax consequences.
  13. Estate Tax. No federal estate tax is due because the value of Mom's estate is less than the applicable estate tax exemption of $5.45 million. No Louisiana Inheritance Tax is due because Louisiana no longer has an inheritance tax. We discussed above income tax consequences to the children's receipt of the annuity and IRA and US Savings Bonds.
  14. Judgment of Possession. Finally, a judge signs a Judgment of Possession which may close the estate and order that all remaining estate assets be transferred to the three children equally. Sonny, as executor, may want to hold back a sum of money just in case bills come in after all of the funds would have been otherwise distributed.

There you have it. While every Louisiana Succession or Probate is different, this is just one example of things that occur during the legal proceedings related to settling a $1 million dollar probate. Actually, the procedure would be the same whether the estate was worth $200,000 or $4,000,000.

If you have lost a family member, and you want to work with an attorney who will help your family get through all of this quickly and easily while keeping the family relationships intact, give us a call at 866-491-3884 to start a discussion about handling the Louisiana Succession.

Who Should Sell The Home: The Executor or the Heirs?

We've been dealing with a probate matter In East Baton Rouge Parish for a few months now. Dad died. Dad owned a home, some bank accounts, some investments, and a vehicle - pretty normal stuff. Accounts were frozen immediately when Dad. Dad had a Last Will and Testament naming Daughter as the independent executor. The Will leaves Dad's estate to eight different heirs.

Dad's house now needs to be sold. People are asking me what's the easiest way to get Dad's house sold. I told them that they have two options:

  1. Keep the estate open and have the one Independent Executor sell the home on behalf of the estate. When the Independent Executor sells the house, the check will be payable to "Estate of Dad," and Daughter, as Independent Executor, will deposit the check into an Estate account that she establishes. Then, we prepare the necessary accounting and get the proper court judgments to allow those estate funds to be disbursed to the eight different heirs in the proper proportions.
  2. Close out the estate, get the final judgment transferring the house to the eight heirs, and then having the eight heirs list and sell the house. This process settles the estate quicker and transfers Dad's assets to his heirs, but all of the eight heirs, as the new co-owners o the home, will have to participate and sign off on the listing of the home, the negotiation, and all eight heirs will have to participate in the closing of the home when those documents are prepared and need to be executed.

In this instance, it was a pretty obvious choice. The decision made, and the one we are moving forward on, is to keep the estate open, have the independent executor sell the home by herself, and then go through the process in a few months (or perhaps even years - depends on how long it takes to complete the sale) go through the final probate process of preparing the necessary accountings for the court, and petitioning the judge to sign off on the final court orders so that the executor and the financial institutions are ordered to release remaining funds to the heirs in the proper proportions.