Louisiana Succession

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.

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

What is a Probate or Succession in Louisiana?

What's the Difference Between a Probate and a Succession?

In Louisiana, the court proceeding that is required when someone dies with assets in their name is called a "Succession." In other states, this procedure is commonly referred to as "Probate." Since lay people and consumers typically to refer to the court proceeding as "probate," I'll use that term throughout.

When you pass away, if assets are titled in your name, whether you have a Last Will or not, the court is responsible for seeing that those assets are managed correctly and ultimately disbursed to the right people (also referred to as "heirs" or "legatees"). These assets may include your home, any other real estate or rental property you own or co-own, any stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, you own, and bank accounts in your name, and business interest such as a membership interest in a limited liability company (LLC) or partnership or privately held corporation, any mineral interests or United States Savings Bonds.

When you die with these types of assets in your name, then those assets are what is commonly referred to as "frozen." They cannot be sold or put into anyone else's name . The probate is the court-supervised procedure that is necessary to transfer assets out of the name of the person who died into the names of the heirs.

As you might imagine, there are many rules and procedures that must be followed in order to complete a Succession. The government thinks that whenever someone dies and there are hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to be divided, then the government is the best entity to make sure things and funds go the right people in the right proportion. The public, however, often prefers that the government stay out of their estate settlement. The public often wants their estate settlement to be simpler, less costly, and with less delay. 

How a Surviving Spouse Owns Home After Inheriting the Intestate Louisiana Usufruct

Whenever a Louisiana married resident dies owning a home with their spouse, and they pass away without ever having signed a Will or Trust (they died "intestate", issues always arise.

I was working with a surviving husband whose wife had died a few weeks earlier. The surviving husband really wanted to own their home. He said that he may want to sell it in the upcoming months or years, he may want to create a home equity line of credit, and he also said that while he has no plans for remarriage, he would want to be able to provide a roof over a new wife's head if he dies before her.

When he came into my office he told he that she had never signed a WIll. He "assumed" that he would own the house since they bought it together and it was paid for. But his assumption was false. I had to tell him that since his wife passed away without any estate legal program in place, that he would continue owning his "one-half" of the house, and that he would be inheriting the "usufruct" of his wife's half of the home until the earlier to occur of his death or remarriage. I further told him that their children would inherit the "naked ownership" of her half of the house.

Some Louisiana folks mistakenly believe that when a married person dies without a Last Will, then half of the deceased's half would go to the surviving spouse, and the other half of the deceased spouse's half would go to the children. But this is an incorrect assumption.

The husband asked me how in the world could he get ownership of the house solely in his name. I told him that we would need to complete his wife's succession first. The succession will require that the home be re-titled so that their children are naked owners of his deceased wife's half of the home, and the surviving husband would own the usufruct of her half until he died or remarried.

Then, his children will sign the necessary paperwork to donate their naked ownership interest back to their father. This would enable the surviving father to have "full ownership" of the home. He needed the children's cooperation to obtain full ownership but the children were completely supportive of the concept of their father owning the home that he had acquired and paid for.

In order to avoid sticky situations when a family member or loved one passes away, it always makes sense to take care of this ahead of time and create an estate legal program that makes settling your estate easier and the right way.

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.

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.

What is a Louisiana Succession or Probate?

A Succession is the court-supervised process of transferring a deceased person's assets to his heirs.

What's the difference between a Succession and Probate?

Really, nothing. In Louisiana (where our laws are different from the laws of the other 49 states), the court proceeding is called a Succession. In all of the other states, it's commonly referred to as a Probate. For purposes of this book, since we will be focusing on the procedure that must occur when a Louisiana resident dies, I'll call it a "Succession." Although you are free to refer to it when talking to your attorney or others as "Probate." In Louisiana, both terms are acceptable.

Example. Carol and Peter had been married for 40 years. They owned a home, an investment account, two vehicles, bank accounts, and a certificate of deposit. Peter died. Peter's Succession is necessary. After Peter dies, title to the home, investment account, and other assets are frozen. Carol (or perhaps Carol and their children - depending on who the heirs are) will hire an attorney, and the family and the attorney will work together to gather family and asset information, prepare and sign court pleadings, and ultimately have a judge order the transfer of assets out of Peter's name into the names of the heirs. Peter's estate assets will be used to pay for these proceedings, and it is likely that it will take anywhere from a few months to years or more to complete this matter, based on many factors.

Which Families Must Complete a Succession?

Anytime a Louisiana resident (or "domiciliary") dies, owning assets, a Succession is required to oversee the management and distribution of the assets to the appropriate heirs. Some people mistakenly believe that if one dies with a Last Will and Testament, that the Succession is avoided. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. When a Louisiana resident dies with a Last Will and Testament, a Succession is still required. The Will simply names an executor (who is in charge of seeing that the court-supervised Succession is handled the right way, and the Will tells a judge who to make sure the remaining Succession assets get transferred to at the conclusion of the Succession proceeding.

What is the Louisiana Small Succession Affidavit Procedure?

A simpler procedure may be allowed if a Louisiana resident dies and all of the following occur:

  • The gross estate of the deceased is less than $75,000; and
  • The deceased died while domiciled in Louisiana; and
  • The deceased did not have a Last Will and Testament.

Other requirements apply but if all of the requirements are met, the family does not have to go through the full-blown Succession judicial proceedings, but the family will still likely have to hire an attorney to deal with the complexities of the Small Succession Affidavit procedure. Further, some third parties may not honor the Small Succession Affidavit. Some brokerage institutions may require that the family complete the entire Succession judicial proceedings before the authorize the transfer of assets to the appropriate heirs.

Do All of the Assets Have To Be Involved in the Succession Judicial Proceeding?

Not necessarily. Many people own "non-probate" assets. There are assets that are titled in a way so that they pass to others at death without the requirement of Succession court orders.

Example. James died leaving three children. James' Last Will and Testament left his estate to his three children equally. When James died, James owned a home, 100 shares of stock in a brokerage account, a vehicle, a boat, an IRA, and an annuity. After James died, James' children were required to hire an attorney (or multiple attorneys) in order to complete the Succession and have the home, stock, boat, and vehicles transferred to the children. But the children were able to work directly with the appropriate financial institutions to have the IRA and annuity transferred to the children. IRAs and annuities are typically structured so that they have "beneficiaries" named. Since James had named his three children as the beneficiaries of his IRA and annuity, these assets were not part of the Succession proceeding. But since James was not permitted to name a beneficiary of his home, stock, boat, and vehicle, the Succession judicial proceedings were required in order for the government to oversee the distribution of James' "probate assets."

What Information Do You Need To Gather To Complete a Succession?

Your Succession attorney should be able to give you a list of what information you need to gather to complete the Succession. The information that you need to supply depends on what the deceased owned, who the heirs are, and other factors. But for starters, you can expect to have to provide the following:

  • The names and addresses of all of the parties involved in the Succession, including all of the heirs and any creditors that are owed;
  • A complete listing of all assets the deceased owned, including real estate legal descriptions, brokerage account statements, bank statements, and boat and vehicle titles;
  • A complete listing of all debts of the deceased, including mortgages, credit card balances, and any other indebtedness;
  • The original, signed Last Will and Testament. The original Will (not a photocopy) must be filed into the Succession record at the courthouse.

There can be quite a bit of additional information that is required, based on the circumstances, but this should get you started in the right direction.

What Kind of Attorney Should You Hire To Avoid Problems With the Succession?

Not every attorney is well-versed in the intricacies of Louisiana Succession and Probate law. Many attorneys spend their days and their careers dealing with car accidents, truck accidents, divorces, immigration law, criminal law, corporate law, or any of the many other legal fields. Most lawyers don't deal with Succession law every day. At a minimum, you should hire an attorney that has the following attributes when you are retaining counsel to walk you and your family through this difficult process at this difficult time:

  • Hire an attorney who has significant experience handling Succession legal matters.
  • Hire an attorney who will listen to your needs rather than simply vomit information at you.
  • Hire an attorney that will help you determine the simplest path to complete all matters related to the Succession, and then provide you with a fixed fee amount, in writing, for the services to be performed. Don't get caught in the trap of, "We'll just simply bill you at several hundred dollars per hour," and then walloped with bills each month for your phone calls that weren't promptly returned, your emails that did not get responded to, and questionable time spent by the attorney or his staff in an attempt to complete a process that will take longer than you want or expect.
  • Hire an attorney who understands the complex tax consequences that a Succession involves. Not just the estate tax - but the heirs are likely to have income tax and capital gains tax issues that can be minimized or avoided with the right Succession attorney advising you.
  • Hire an attorney who is recommended. Does the attorney you are considering have dozens or hundreds of testimonial letters from previously satisfied clients, glowing about the attorney's professionalism, courteousness, and promptness? If so, this would be a sign that you are on the right track to hiring the right Succession attorney.

What is the Executor's Role in a Succession?

An executor is not necessarily involved in every Succession. Some Successions are completed "without an administration" rendering an executor unnecessary.

Example. Dad died with a Last Will and Testament leaving everything to Mom. Dad and Mom owned a home, three joint bank accounts, and two vehicles. A Succession was necessary after Dad died so that the home could be re-titled into Mom's name solely. This would allow the home to be sold by Mom in the future. Since the bank accounts were joint accounts, they were not frozen - Mom continued to have access to the three bank accounts after Dad died. Mom had no desire to "quickly" sell the home or the cars. When going through Mom's Succession, Mom was advised that she could complete the Succession without actually getting "confirmed" as the executor. Mom and the attorney petitioned the court to order that Dad's portion of these assets be transferred directly to Mom. The judge signed this court order (called "Judgment of Possession), ordering that the home and vehicles and bank accounts be transferred to Mom. The attorney filed the Judgment in the real estate records of the parish, and Mom brought a certified copy of the Judgment to the Office of Motor Vehicles. The end result was that the home and vehicles were put in Mom's name, and Mom still had access over their joint bank accounts.

However, when assets need to be managed in an estate, then the court often confirms an executor who gets access to these assets while the Succession is taking place.

Example. Tommy dies leaving his estate to many heirs. He includes bequests to all of his children, his grandchildren, and even most of his nieces and nephews. Tommy owned stock, several pieces of real estate, and a business. In Tommy's Will, he appointed Rita as his executor. Immediately after Tommy dies, Rita locates a buyer for one of Tommy's pieces of real estate. Because it will take many months or years to complete Tommy's Succession due to the complexity and the number of people who have to be represented by an attorney, Rita petitions the court to have herself confirmed as the executor. The court quickly confirms Rita, and now Rita can start the process of selling the property as the executor of Tommy's estate. The sale does not have to wait until years later after the property gets transferred to many co-owners.

What is an Independent Executor?

Back in 2001, the Louisiana Legislature created the position of "Independent Executor." When someone is simply an "Executor," every action they take in the administration of the estate must be approved by a judge - sell a car or piece of real estate, sell stock, pay debts, etc. But if the executor is an "Independent Executor," then the Independent Executor can take certain actions without the necessity of getting a judge to approve the action in advance. Having an Independent Executor does not eliminate the need for a Succession, but it eliminates some of the onerous aspects of a Succession.

What Taxes are involved in a Succession?

Plenty. While most estates are not subject to the federal estate tax, most Successions have some form of income tax consequences and capital gains tax consequences. Capital gains taxes can be incurred when an estate or heirs sell property, and income taxes are often incurred by heirs or beneficiaries - particularly if the heir is also a beneficiary of a Traditional IRA or an annuity.

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.