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Most people are overwhelmed after a loved one dies, and dealing with the legal issues related to probate can be challenging. At Barrios, Kingsdorf & Casteix, our experienced New Orleans probate administration lawyers will ensure that you understand your options, know what the law requires, and guide you through this process step by step.
Probate and estate administration refer to the overall process by which a person’s estate is administered after his or her death, until all debts are paid and properties are distributed to the designated heirs and beneficiaries.
Think of estate administration as a play-by-play process that is completed according to the probate court’s guidelines. Contrary to what many people understand of the process, probate does not apply only in cases where the decedent left a will. An estate must be administered whether there is a will or not. In fact, when there is no will, there is often more involvement of the court in probate.
If there is a will, the distribution of the properties will follow the wishes of the decedent. When there is no will, the decedent has died intestate, and Louisiana law will determine how the estate is divided among heirs.
It’s important to know how to probate a will in Louisiana, so that if this situation arises you will understand what you are dealing with. Most probate courts follow virtually the same process in estate administration. It starts out with the court appointing an executor who is given certain powers and duties.
Heirs, creditors, and the general public will be notified of the decedent’s death. The court will also direct the estate’s representative to make an inventory of all properties of the estate. In addition, he or she is given the task of collecting any amounts due to the estate, as well as paying debts the decedent left behind.
After all debts, taxes, and other obligations are met, the court may order the distribution of the properties in the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.
Probate proceedings are handled by parish courts and are subject to state laws.
The executor is in charge of the estate after officially being appointed by the court.
If no one is designated as executor in the decedent’s will, or if the person named is unwilling or unable to perform the duties, a family member of the decedent may ask the court to appoint someone who can.
As evidence of his or her appointment, the court will give the appointed executor or administrator a legal document known as Letters Testamentary (in the case of executors) or Letters of Administration (for administrators).
The appointed individual will take an oath of office prior to the exercise of his or her powers, functions, and duties.
Many of those appointed executor of a will have never experienced the process of a probating an estate. If you’re in this position, the New Orleans estate administration lawyers at Barrios, Kingsdorf & Casteix can assist you throughout this process.
The court may order the representative to notify the heirs, creditors, and the general public regarding the death of the decedent. This can be accomplished by publishing of a notice of death in the local newspaper. This can also serve as notice to all creditors of the estate to file claims for debts owed to them within a specified period.
The representative is also tasked with making an inventory of all properties in the estate. This includes all real and personal properties owned by the decedent up to the time of death. The purpose of this is to ensure that all properties are accounted for and to make sure the estate has enough assets to pay all debts and obligations before heirs receive shares of the estate.
This aspect is the main objective and final step in every probate administration process. Before the properties are distributed to the heirs and beneficiaries, obligations will have to be satisfied first.
Taxes and creditors’ claims will have to be paid out of the funds or properties of the estate. Family allowances, funeral expenses, estate administration costs, and other claims will also be satisfied before the court will order the transfer of properties to the heirs and beneficiaries.
What is left of the estate will then be distributed to the intended heirs.
Most people are overwhelmed after a loved one dies, and dealing with the legal issues related to probate can be challenging. At Barrios, Kingsdorf & Casteix, our experienced New Orleans Estate Administration lawyers will ensure that you understand your options, know what the law requires, and guide you through this process step by step.