Louisiana Small Successions
It is not necessary to open a judicial succession when the decedent died intestate (or was domiciled in another state and the testament was probated in another state), that value of the estate is not more than $125,000, and the decedent’s heirs are his or her descendants, ascendants, brothers or sisters, descendants of brothers and sisters, or surviving spouse.
Prior to 2011, small successions were not available if the estate included immovable property. However, now immovable property can be included if the total value of all assets does not exceed $125,000. If the estate meets these requirements and doesn’t have some other impediment that requires administration, the heirs may execute a small succession affidavit or multiple originals of the affidavit. If there is immovable property, the affidavit and death certificate should be recorded in the conveyance records of each parish that immovable property is owned by the estate.
The affidavit is authority for banks or anyone holding property of the decedent to deliver that property to the decedent’s heirs. Interestingly, the affidavit does not require third parties to transfer the property though. It simply relieves them of liability from relying on the affidavit. It is not uncommon for transfer agents of stock to require a judgment of possession, thus, requiring a succession to be opened with the court even though the property could technically be transferred by affidavit.
Who Must Sign a Small Succession?
The affidavit must be signed by at least two people in the presence of a notary and two witnesses. If the decedent was married at the time of death, the affidavit must be signed by the surviving spouse and at least one adult heir. If the decedent was not married, the affidavit must be signed by two adult heirs. If the decedent only had one adult heir, the affidavit must be signed by that heir and another person who has knowledge of the facts listed in the affidavit. If any of the heirs are minors, their natural tutor can sign the affidavit on behalf of the minor heir(s).
In rare circumstances, if an estate would normally qualify to be a small succession, but some issue exists that requires administration, it will need to be opened in court with a few differences. The court costs will be half of what they normally would be. The succession representative’s fee will be 5% of the estate rather than 2.5%. Finally, a succession representative who wants to sell estate property must publish notice of the sale between 10 and 15 days prior to the sale.
There is a two-year prescriptive period on the ability of someone to contest the transfer of immovable property by small succession affidavit. After two years it is too late to claim that the title was transferred to the wrong heir(s).
Other Ways to Transfer Certain Assets
Vehicles can be transferred by “affidavit of heirship” that is submitted to the DMV. Similarly, boats can be transferred by execution of an “affidavit for transfer of decedent’s boat” that is submitted to Wildlife and Fisheries.
Up to $5,000 can be withdrawn from a decedent’s bank account(s) by the surviving spouse and heirs if the decedent died intestate, and the spouse and heirs submit a “R.S. 6:315.1 affidavit” to the bank establishing relationship and stating that the decedent left no will. Similarly, regardless of if a will exists or not, up to $10,000 can be withdrawn by a surviving spouse by submitting a “R.S. 9:1513 affidavit” attesting that the total funds withdrawn from all bank accounts under this procedure has not exceeded $10,000.
New Orleans Succession Attorneys
Bowes, Petkovich & Palmer, LLC is a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980. Our experienced lawyers can handle any succession including small successions and can quickly have you placed into ownership of your loved one’s estate. We take pride in offering a personal and trusted experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.