Inherited Immovable Property in Louisiana and Succession
You have inherited “immovable property” (e.g., a home, lot, building, or immobilized mobile home) from a family member or a friend. Now what? In Louisiana, a succession is required to formally transfer the ownership and re-title the immovable property into the name of the heir(s). A succession is the process of settling a deceased person’s estate and distributing the property to the heirs after the debts are paid. This process is called “probate” in other states. The term succession may also be used to refer to the estate a person leaves behind at death.
When is a succession required?
A succession is required regardless if someone dies testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will). The legal possession of immovable property that results from a succession will give the successors the power to sell the property, refinance, and qualify for the homestead exemption.
Judgments of Possession in Succession cases are considered “prima facie” evidence (sufficient on its face) of the rights of the heirs of the Decedent. The right to assert an inheritance right is subject to a thirty (30) year prescription (time for which a right exists), which runs continuously from the decedent’s death. After this, the Judgment of Possession would be final and conclusive.
Opening a succession
To open a succession and obtain a judgment of possession, an attorney must file the necessary petitions in the parish court where the deceased was domiciled at the time of his death. Domicile is the parish where the decedent’s primary residence was located.
The goal of opening a succession is to obtain the Judgment of Possession. An attorney must file the following documents: (1) Petition for Possession; (2) Affidavit of Death, Domicile and Heirship; (3) Sworn, Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities; (4) Renunciations or donations (if applicable); and (5) Judgment of Succession. For probate successions (when there is a valid will), there must also be an order from the Judge that probates the testament.
When judgment is rendered, the attorney must then record the Judgment of Possession in the conveyance records in all parishes where the decedent owned immovable property. This puts third parties on notice that property has been transferred to the heirs and helps avoid any confusion further down the road.
Why it’s important to be timely
Delay in opening a succession may cause problems. Often, successors wait many years to open a succession. As a result, they may run into problems such as lost documents or wills or face tax sales of homes for unpaid taxes. Also, waiting too many years to open a succession may make a succession more complicated and expensive. This is especially true with the passing of generations when the co-heirs lose contact with each other or die. Heirs should act quickly to protect their inheritance rights since their property may be lost if transferred to a third party.
If you need assistance with a succession or more information on inherited immovable property in Louisiana, contact TitlePlus today at (225) 709-3500.