What Is a Judgment of Possession in Louisiana?

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At the close of succession, or probate, an estate will require a judgment of possession in Louisiana. This document allows for the transfer of the decedent's property to their heirs and beneficiaries. This step is one of many in place to ensure the fair distribution of a decedent's assets.

Types of Louisiana Estate Succession

There are two categories of succession in Louisiana. The first – succession without administration, or simple possession – does not require extensive court proceedings or an estate representative. If the decedent left a valid last will and testament, the heirs agree and are competent, and there are no debts or liabilities, a succession attorney can begin the process of creating a judgment of possession.

If there was no will, but there is no debt on an estate, and the parties involved agree, an attorney can, once again, proceed in creating the judgment of possession.

Succession with full administration occurs when the validity of a will is in question, the decedent's assets must be used to pay creditors, or the heirs are not in agreement. The court will then oversee the process, after which the estate's attorney can request a judgment of possession.

Succession Proceedings Under Louisiana Law

When a decedent leaves a will that names the executor of an estate and its beneficiaries, the executor will collect and manage the estate assets, pay creditors and the decedent's taxes before distributing the property to their heirs. If the decedent died intestate (without a will), the court will appoint an administrator to take on this responsibility. This person is known as the succession representative of the estate.

Once an executor or succession representative has fulfilled most of their estate administration duties and it is time to distribute the property to the decedent's beneficiaries, a succession attorney will assemble the documents required to close an estate. They will present these papers to the court to obtain a judgment of possession.

In Louisiana, it takes up to six months to complete a succession, but some Louisiana succession proceedings can remain open for years due to to their complexity.

What Is a Judgment of Possession?

A judgment of possession in Louisiana is a court order that allows the formal transfer of the decedent's assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. A judge signs this document at the end of the succession process. It states that everything that needed to be done has been accomplished to put the deceased person's property in the hands of their beneficiaries and heirs. A judgment of possession contains:

  • A descriptive list of the estate's assets. If real estate is part of the decedent's estate, it will include a legal description of that property.
  • A list of the estate's successors and what each will inherit.
  • All "usufructs" or people who have the right to use the decedent's property for life.
  • An order from the court, if the decedent had a will.
  • At least one heir or legatee's last known address.
  • An order that anyone who holds the decedent's property deliver it to their heirs and beneficiaries.

No one other than a succession attorney needs to appear in court during this procedure, but the estate heirs must sign the pleadings and affidavits that the succession attorney will use to obtain the judgment of possession.