How Intestacy Affects Inheritance and Succession in Louisiana

How Intestacy Affects Inheritance and Succession in Louisiana

When a person dies, their assets are frozen. These will only become active once their debts and will are settled, and this process is called probate or succession. Probate is needed even if someone dies with a testament, or with a will, or not—a family law attorney can help survivors untangle legal matters surrounding succession.

The heirs might “own” the decedent’s assets in fact or practice, but probate is necessary to transfer the ownership and re-title the assets legally. That is unless there are other ways of moving the ownership from the decedent to his survivors.


How does probate affect a decedent’s real estate?

In some states, if an asset is jointly held, the rights to its ownership automatically transfer to the surviving owner. Joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, however, is not applicable in Louisiana.

If a person who owns Louisiana real estate dies while residing someplace else, it opens succession for transferring the property to his heirs. This situation creates complications for both the joint owner of the property and the deceased person’s heirs.

There are unfortunate situations where a family member, spouse, or close associate of the deceased misappropriated property they were not supposed to receive. If an heir suspects that this is the case for his deceased relative, he should consult a family law attorney.


How can you prevent assets from undergoing probate?

Establishing a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is the most straightforward way of avoiding probate for non-beneficiary assets. With a living trust, a person can name who he wants to inherit his assets without probate.

The trust’s beneficiary must submit a certified death certificate and a beneficiary claim form. These documents allow him to re-title these assets. A person can also open a payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) account for a beneficiary. He may also transfer assets through beneficiary designations on IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and 457 plans.

Otherwise, all assets will have to go through probate, and the court-appointed executor of the decedent’s estate is the only one to have access to the assets while succession is being settled. After probate, the court transfers the executor’s rights to the heirs.

If you have questions about intestacy in Northwest Louisiana, contact us today.


What are the other implications of probate?

A succession also allows creditors to enforce their right to due payment, but only up to the amount of an heir’s inheritance. For example, if the heir gets $100,000 and the decedent is owed $20,000, that is the amount that the heir is legally required to provide the creditor.

You should speak with succession lawyers in Louisiana before you agree to pay off a family member’s debt. This requirement for probate in intestacy laws creates situations where people exploit others for their benefit.

Furthermore, some people who prepare a will do not consult with a lawyer when they do, and they leave behind a document that is non-compliant or has controversies that need settling. If you are planning to create a will, you should definitely consult with a lawyer.


Have an attorney look over your last will & testament. You want to leave behind something useful to your survivors, and a clear outline of succession provides that. If your loved one did not leave a will, it is all the more important to seek a succession lawyer’s services.

Request a consultation with Christopher M. Stahl for wills and successions. Chris Stahl is a family law attorney in Bossier City, LA, named by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Louisiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service. Get in touch today for more information.

Contact us by filling out the form below.