Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Read this in: Spanish / Español


About Successions

This resource helps you understand topics related to successions and wills, such as what happens to someone's things after they die and how to manage the transfer of belongings or assets after a person's death. It provides information on the two types of succession processes based on the value of the estate at the time of the decedent's death, and the criteria for a property to be included in the succession process. It also explains other issues to consider related to successions, such as transferring ownership of immovable property and out-of-state residents with property ownership in a Louisiana parish. Use this resource to learn how to deal with these issues easily and effectively.

Learn more about terms and words in successions by visiting the Successions Dictionary

What You Need To Know

A succession is the division of property in an estate beginning at the moment of death of a person. Other states call a succession, probate.

A succession should be opened as soon as practicable after the the person’s death. Sometimes, it is necessary to immediately open a succession to use the decedent's bank accounts or assets to pay funeral or medical bills.

You need to find the correct local parish court where the person who died lived or passed away. There, file the needed papers to record their death and the change of ownership of their property.

When a person dies, their belongings and assets (like their home, money, etc.) have to be passed on to others, and this process is known as "succession". In Louisiana, specific rules decide how this should happen. Let's break down the situations where property can be included in the succession process:

  • The individual had a will: This is a document where the person has stated clearly who should get what from their assets. This will should meet certain criteria defined by the Louisiana laws to be accepted.

  • The individual died without a will but lived in Louisiana: Even if a person didn't prepare a will before they died, their belongings still need to be passed on to their family or other people. In Louisiana, there are standard rules that define how to do this if the person lived there.

  • The individual had a will validated in another state: Sometimes, a person might have prepared their will in a different state, but owned property in Louisiana. In this case, the will can still be used in the succession process in Louisiana, as long as it was a valid will according to the laws of the state where it was created.

When someone dies, their assets will be distributed through a process called succession, which can be testate (with a valid will) or intestate (without a valid will). The presence or absence of a will determines how the assets are handled, who can inherit them, and under what rules the process will be administered, with specific guidelines set by Louisiana law in the case of intestate successions.

Find Out If There Is A Will: The first step in the succession process is to find out if there is a will. It is crucial to establish whether a will exists to know how to proceed with the succession process - whether it will be a testate or intestate succession. This dictates who can inherit and who can administrate the estate, setting the path for the following legal procedures.

  1. Testate Succession: This is when a person dies and they have a valid will. In testate successions, there is a legally recognized will that outlines how the deceased person's assets should be distributed. It specifies who the heirs are and what they are entitled to inherit. It also might designate an administrator who is responsible for ensuring the wishes in the will are carried out. 

  2. Intestate Succession: This occurs when a person dies without a will or with an invalid will. In this scenario, since there is no valid will to guide the distribution of assets, Louisiana law dictates how the estate should be divided among surviving heirs. This process includes determining who the heirs are and classifying and dividing the property according to Louisiana law.


In a Louisiana succession, the distribution of assets depends on whether the succession is testate or intestate. 

 In a testate succession, the decedent's property is distributed according to the terms of their valid will. The will may specify which assets go to which beneficiaries, or it may provide for a general distribution of the estate. The executor named in the will is responsible for carrying out the decedent's wishes and distributing the assets accordingly.

In an intestate succession, the decedent's property is distributed according to the rules of intestate succession set forth in the Louisiana Civil Code. The rules provide for a default scheme of distribution based on the relationship of the surviving heirs to the decedent. Generally, the decedent's surviving spouse and children are entitled to a share of the estate, with the exact distribution depending on the number of surviving heirs and other factors. If the decedent has no surviving spouse or children, the estate may pass to other relatives or, in some cases, to the state. 

It is important to note that Louisiana law recognizes the concept of community property, which can affect the distribution of assets in a succession. Community property is property acquired during the marriage that is owned jointly by both spouses. In a succession, community property is generally divided equally between the surviving spouse and the decedent's heirs

In Louisiana, there are rules about giving away property after someone dies. This process is called "succession." Here's how it can work:

  • If a person meets certain conditions outlined in the Louisiana laws.

  • If the person died without a will but was living in Louisiana at the time of their death.

Also, if the person had a will that was legally approved in a different state, they could still include their Louisiana property in the succession.

In Louisiana, not just your main home, but also other kinds of properties like commercial property or empty land can be passed on to others when you die. This is part of what's called the "succession process."

To make sure everything goes smoothly, it's very important to clearly note what kind of property each one is before starting the succession process.

There are two types of succession processes based on the value of the estate at the time of the decedent's death.

  1. Property Valued $125,000 or More

    • This kind of succession is termed a larger general property succession.

    • It needs to be filed as a regular succession in a civil court.

  2. Property Valued Less than $125,000

    • This type of succession can be handled through the affidavit process.

    • The transfer of property can be completed by recording an affidavit in the public records in court.

Each process is guided by the value of the estate at the moment the individual passes away.

To initiate a Louisiana succession, several documents are typically required. These may include:

  1. Death certificate: A certified copy of the decedent's death certificate is required to initiate a succession.
  2. Will: If the decedent left a valid will, a copy of the will must be filed with the court.
  3. Petition for possession: This is a legal document that initiates the succession process and requests that the court appoint an executor or administrator to manage the estate.
  4. Inventory: An inventory of the decedent's assets and liabilities must be prepared and filed with the court.
  5. Affidavit of heirship: This document identifies the decedent's heirs and their relationship to the decedent.
  6. Notice to creditors: A notice must be published in a local newspaper to notify creditors of the decedent's death and the initiation of the succession process.
  7. Judgment of possession: This is a court order that authorizes the distribution of the decedent's property to the heirs or legatees. The specific documents required may vary depending on the circumstances of the case, and it is important to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about Louisiana succession law to ensure that the process is handled properly.

Other Issues To Consider

Other Issues To Consider Related To Successions

Besides figuring out a property's value and understanding the legal steps in the succession process, there are other key things to think about. Here are some usual concerns that come up during successions.

Other Issues To Consider

When dealing with a succession involving immovable property, such as a home, you need to visit the Conveyance Office in the parish where the property is located with a certified copy of the Judgment of Possession. This should be done post-filing your succession. It's recommended to ensure that the Board of Assessors receives this judgment from each Conveyance Office; while most offices send the required documents to the Assessor, verifying the submission and providing the new owners' details is considered good practice. Keeping track of the record to confirm the update.

Following this process is essential to legally transfer the ownership of the immovable property (like a home) to the new owners as dictated in the succession process. By ensuring the Conveyance Office and the Board of Assessors have the necessary documents, including the certified copy of the Judgment of Possession, aids in updating the official records to reflect the new ownership. This helps to avoid legal complications in the future and ensures that property taxes and other responsibilities are correctly assigned to the new owners. Moreover, verifying that the necessary changes have been made prevents oversights and errors in the official records, helping to uphold the intents of the decedent's will and safeguarding the rights of the new owners.

In cases where an individual owns property in a Louisiana Parish but has passed away while domiciled in another state, the will is usually probated in the state they resided in at the time of their death, not in Louisiana.

However, Louisiana courts can oversee ancillary probate matters that follow the general succession rules of the state and include updating the public records in the specific parish where the property is situated.

This process necessitates an authentic copy of the will and involves the court appointing a personal representative to handle the case. It's important to note that probate procedures can vary significantly based on the decedent's state of domicile.


In the case of federal student loans in the United States, the debt is forgiven if the borrower dies. This means that the debt is not passed on to the borrower's estate or heirs. 

Private student loans may not offer the same protections, and in some cases, the debt might be passed onto the borrower's estate, impacting the value of inheritance that is passed down through succession. 

If a student loan has a cosigner, and the primary borrower dies, the co-signer might be legally responsible for repaying the loan, depending on the specific terms of the loan agreement. 

Learn more about student loan debt repayment after death by visiting these resources: 

After someone dies, their debts must be paid and any mortgages they had need to be managed before their remaining assets can be distributed to the heirs. It is a legal necessity and a crucial step to ensure a smooth transition and prevention of future financial and legal complications.

Two financial assets that need to be handled after a person has died, before their assets can be given to others include: 

  1. Outstanding Debts: The debts of the person who died need to be paid off first before sharing out their assets. 
  2. Mortgage Liabilities: If a deceased person had a property with a mortgage on it, a plan needs to be created to manage this mortgage. This could involve continuing to make payments, selling the property to pay off the mortgage, or transferring the mortgage responsibility to one of the heirs. This step is crucial to prevent foreclosure and to safeguard the value of the property for the heirs. 

Learn more about debts and liabilities related to successions by visiting this resource

After someone dies, the money and things they leave behind might be taxed. There are two main kinds of taxes that might apply:

  1. Inheritance tax: This is a tax that the people who get something (like money or a house) from the person who died have to pay. How much they have to pay can change depending on where they live.

  2. Estate tax: This is a different kind of tax that is taken from the total value of everything the person who died owned before it's given to their family or other people in the will.

It's really important for the family or the person handling the dead person's belongings to know the tax rules where they live so they handle everything correctly.

Learn more about tax implications related to successions by visiting this resource

When a person dies and their assets are to be distributed, it is essential to clearly identify who the beneficiaries are to ensure a rightful distribution. However, sometimes disputes arise among the heirs regarding the distribution, which might necessitate mediation or legal intervention to resolve the issues. It emphasizes the need for clarity in identification and a structured approach to resolving any disagreements to facilitate a smooth transfer of assets.

Learn more about beneficiaries and heirs in successions by visiting this resource

Successions in the context of inheriting an interest in a lease refers to the legal and procedural processes involved in transferring the rights, obligations, and interests of a lease from one party (the decedent) to another party (usually an heir or beneficiary) following the death of the original leaseholder.

Learn more about inheriting an interest in a lease in successions by visiting this resource

Last Review and Update: Sep 13, 2023
Back to top