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Will distance make a succession dispute more likely?

When someone passes away without a will in Louisiana, the process of distributing their assets is known as succession. If there was a will, then their estate can go through the probate process instead. Navigating someone’s estate without a will can be a very complicated process, especially if there are special circumstances that factor into a situation.

For example, perhaps you grew up in Louisiana and your parents continued to live there with your siblings. You moved out of state for college decades ago, and now your parents have passed away. They didn’t leave any will behind, and there are no instructions for you and your siblings. Is the fact that you live in a different state going to make navigating the administration of their estate more problematic?

Not having an estate plan increases the odds of a dispute

In this situation, one thing that can make a dispute more likely is simply the fact that you don’t have a will or an estate plan to reference. Siblings often fight over what their parents would’ve wanted. They may disagree about the decisions they think a parent would’ve made, but there’s no longer any way to ask that parent. Without the answers to those questions clarified in an estate plan, siblings have to agree on their own, and that is not always possible.

Physical distance can be an issue

Additionally, the sheer distance itself can make this more complicated. As one report put it: “Beneficiaries living at a distance are said to be the No. 1 reason why the probate process sometimes gets held up.” Technology has gotten better over the decades, but it still takes time to mail documents, have discussions, transfer physical assets, access bank accounts and otherwise engage in estate administration effectively from afar.

Plus, there could be family divides to consider. Perhaps your other siblings feel much closer to each other – and to your parents – than you do. Does that mean that they are going to believe they should get the assets and that you should get nothing? You’ll want to carefully consider the personal relationships you have with everyone involved when trying to determine how likely it is that a dispute will arise in the wake of a loved one’s death.

What can you do?

So, what do you do if you do get involved in a succession dispute while living out of state? It’s crucial to begin looking into all of the legal steps you can take to fight for what you deserve. Seeking legal guidance proactively is usually a good place to begin.