The successions process in Louisiana is relatively straightforward. The representative of an estate presents estate planning documents to the successions court or informs the court of the lack of such documents. They notify beneficiaries, creditors and any other party with an interest in the estate of the impending succession proceedings.
They then carry out someone’s wishes or follow state law in their efforts to settle the financial affairs of someone who recently died without a will in place. Sometimes, the successions process leads to conflict. Occasionally, the actions of the representative of the estate raise alarms and family members speak up out of concern that this individual may have violated their fiduciary duty. Other times, people may question the actual estate planning documents and whether they are valid. Such scenarios often lead to successions litigation.
What are the grounds for contesting a will?
Family members, putative beneficiaries and other interested parties could have reason to question the validity of a will, trust documents or other estate planning paperwork. In scenarios where people can incredibly assert that there is a problem with the documents, the Louisiana successions courts may intervene.
Some of the most common reasons for will contests include:
- Allegations of fraud
- Concern about undue influence
- Questions about someone’s testamentary capacity
- Assertions that the terms violate state law
Those who believe an outside party may have altered the documents or influenced the testator might challenge the validity of the documents. Those with the statutory right to inherit could question documents that deviate from state rules regarding the rights of spouses.
If the timing of the documents is suspect because an individual struggled with cognitive decline in their later years, then questions about their capacity at the time of drafting the documents could influence whether they are valid and enforceable or not.
Successions litigation can preserve someone’s legacy
Although people sometimes think of successions litigation as frivolous, the truth is that sometimes legal intervention is necessary to protect someone’s true intentions and the people that were closest to them in life. Recognizing warning signs that succession litigation may be necessary could benefit those who have recently lost a loved one and have concerns about their rights.