In Louisiana, the probate process is called succession. If you intend to contest a will, or the succession process in Louisiana, you will need to have a good reason. Wills are generally difficult to contest as the court cannot ascertain the intentions of the deceased beyond what is written in her will. If you want to contest a will simply because you believe that you deserve a greater portion of the estate, you will be unsuccessful, as this is not a valid grounds for contest.
Hire an attorney to help you contest the will. The paperwork and criteria necessary to successfully contest a will require a great amount of research and detail and this is where an attorney can be helpful. You should ask your personal attorney for a referral for a good estate attorney or contact the Louisiana State Bar Association.
Determine the grounds on which you intend to contest the will. You may also contest the succession process in general to achieve the same result. Proper grounds include incapacity on the part of the drafter of the will, undue influence on the person who drafted the will, failure to comply with the requirements of Louisiana will construction, fraud, mismanagement of the estate by the executor, an error as to the assets of the estate or an ambiguity in the will. Other grounds for contesting a will are generally not valid, so consult your attorney.
File a written objection to the will in front of the state district court in the parish where the deceased lived. This should also be where the will was filed following the deceased's passing. The written objection is typically called a "petition of objection" in Louisiana. You will be given a court date following your filing of the petition.
If required by the court, you should pay any applicable fees associated with the petition of objection. Other parties may file responses to your petition of objection and you should carefully review their arguments to prepare for court. Fees associated with your petition will vary based on your parish. In St. Tammanay Parish, the filing fee for a petition is $105.
Appear in court on the the date you were assigned following your filing of the petition of objection. You will be given a chance in open court to argue why the will or the succession process is invalid and why you deserve some type of relief from the court. Parties who oppose you will also be given a chance to present their arguments.
You must have legal standing to contest the will. If you do not have a financial interest in the outcome of the succession process you will not be allowed to contest the will.
You have a very limited time frame to contest a will. Generally the succession process can be completed in less than three months, so you should contact an attorney immediately.
- Rabalis Law Offices: Grounds To Contest a Succession; Paul Rabalais; April 2011.
- Rabalis Law Offices: How Does a Succession Work in Louisiana?; Paul Rabalais; February 2011.
- Lawyers.com: Grounds for Will Contests
- Marvin Owen: Louisiana Estate Administration
- St. Tammanay Parish Clerk of Courts: Civil Department Advance Deposits