Avoiding Probate in Louisiana

We frequently receive questions regarding how to avoid probate in Louisiana. Many Louisiana residents wish to avoid causing their spouse or their children from having to open a succession (i.e. go through probate) after their death. There are many reasons why people wish to avoid probate. I will highlight a few of those reasons in this blog post.

Avoiding the expense and delay of probate. Probate is a court-supervised process to retitle assets from the name of the deceased person to their heirs. Because it is court supervised, there are specific rules and procedures that must be followed. As a result, it may take months or even years to complete the succession. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on the composition of the estate assets and if any heirs are contesting a part of parts or the succession. For example, a child may try to challenge the will. By avoiding probate, the expenses and delay associated with probate proceedings may be eliminated. Assets that avoid probate may be retitled into the new owner’s name immediately without court supervision.

Dealing with “problem heirs”. Avoiding probate reduces the legal remedies available to a disgruntled heir. We often hear concerns that one child will ‘cause problems” during the succession and settlement of an estate. The last thing that a parent wishes to leave behind is a legal dispute that may take years to clean up.  If you anticipate an heir may try to challenge your will or they may contest and object to signing the succession documents, avoiding probate can help minimize these problems. During a succession, one heir may refuse to sign the succession documents, often for no valid reason. Their refusal to sign causes significant delay, increased expenses, and frustration between family members. Often a rift between family members is the end result. You can defuse many of these issues by avoiding probate altogether.

Privacy concerns. Most people wish to retain as much privacy as possible when it comes to their finances and family business. Unfortunately, succession records are public record, and anyone can obtain a copy of the succession documents from the clerk of court. The use of a revocable trust to avoid probate can minimize the amount of your private information that becomes public record. Keep in mind that a revocable trust is not entirely private. Transferring deeds for real estate from the trust to the beneficiaries, for example, must be filed in the conveyance records.

While on the topic of revocable trusts, consider some of its additional benefits. If you own real estate located in another state, a revocable trust can help avoid an ancillary probate proceeding in that state. Likewise if you own real estate in Louisiana and move to another state, placing the Louisiana real estate in a revocable trust can avoid going through probate in Louisiana. In addition, a revocable trust can help manage your affairs in the event of you are incapacitated. If you become incapacitated, your co-trustee or successor trustee (typically your spouse or a child) will manage your assets for you. The trustee is bound to manage your assets according to your instructions set forth in your trust document. Click here for more information about avoiding probate and revocable trusts in Louisiana.

Contact lawyer John E. Sirois in Houma at 985-580-2520 if you have questions about living trusts and avoiding probate. Click on the Estate Planning Checklist to begin planning your estate. You may also e-mail him for a consultation.