Lemon Law Louisiana

Pharis Law Offices

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Successions (what to do when you become an heir).

A succession is a legal proceeding wherein the heirs of the deceased person are recognized, his property is listed, and a will, if there is one, is probated (recognized by the court as the last will and testament and put into effect).

We often hear from people, why do I have to open a succession for a deceased parent or other relative? What are the penalties if I don't? How much will it cost?

Successions are most important where someone dies owning real estate. The heirs want and deserve a "clean title" to the property. Real estate laws require, for the owner's and general public's protection, that all real estate titles be of public record (recorded at the courthouse of the parish in which the land is located). Further, if a transaction is not of public record, a person not a party to the unrecorded sale can ignore it. A succession judgment that refers to real estate by its legal description can be recorded and supply the link in the "chain of title" between the deceased person and his or her heirs. Then, in later transactions with the property, all heirs can be fairly compensated and not left out of the transaction, and the person who buys it gets a clean title.

Bank accounts, stock holdings, notes, and bonds should be listed in the succession judgment, or the bank or stock issuer doesn't have to recognize the heirs on their books. The judgment routinely orders all institutions to recognize the heirs on their books and pay any credits, dividends, or note payments to the heirs, and puts the force of the law behind the order.

The succession representative, called an administrator (if no will) or executor (a person named in the will) has to right to be substituted as a party in an ongoing lawsuit the deceased person may have been involved in. An "administration" of a succession will halt bill collections until the property and exact amount of the bills can be determined. This can be very important if there is lengthly last illness with big medical bills that Medicaire/Medicaid or insurance must sort out and pay.

Also, the administrator or executor will make sure that any specific property willed to others will be delivered and a receipt obtained. The succession attorney actually does much of the work and advises the administrator or executor on his or her rights and responsibilities.

Fees in succession matters usually depend on how much work is involved. Where there are large estates, there is almost always more work involved. More real estate to research and describe, more banks and other institutions to contact, and usually a will to probate. Bank boxes, will searches, and titled vehicles often present more time and effort for the attorney for the administrator or executor. Therefore, more is charged in those situations. Our policy is to explain the fee at the outset, but it is almost always hard to determine how much time and effort the attorney will devote, so therefore, the fee is usually based on less than five percent of the estate's value. For small estates, a flat rate is usually charged.

At Pharis Law Offices, we have extensive experience in the law of successions and estates in Louisiana.

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