Last week we encountered a client who was trying to get the succession for their father's estate completed. The father's will was created over 15 years ago in 1995 and was governed by the laws of Louisiana. Overall, the will was pretty standard with the exception of one detail. The will named one of the testator's children as an "independent executor". The odd thing is, this will was created before Louisiana ever recognized what is known as independent administration of a will. Louisiana only began allowing for independent administration in 2001. As you can imagine, myself and my associates were all surprised to see this term in any will created before 2001. Whether it be the extraordinary foresight of the will creator or just a stroke of luck, this "independent executor" term had a great effect on the ease with which the succesion could proceed.
Typically, all wills name an executor. The executor is the person who manages the estate's administration during the succession or probate of the will of the deceased. Administration can include selling estate assets, disbursing estate property, and other various management functions with regard to the estate. When an administrator or executor is not designated and approved as "independent", they must get a court order to take any action with respect to the testator's estate property. The process of getting court approval for all these management activities is cumbersome and could also be costly as court filing fees can quickly pile up.
When an executor is approved as an independent executor, they can take all of the aforementioned management activities without any court involvement. So clearly, independent administration is the way to go in Louisiana because of the ease it facilitates with any succesion. At the Rabalais Law Firm, we make sure to always include this "independent executor" language in every will we create and we will always seek to have an independent administrator or executor approved whenever we deal with a succesion. If you have a will created prior to 2001 which most likely does not include the "independent executor" term it would be a good idea to update your will to reflect the changes in the law and any changes in your present circumstances. If you are encountering a succesion proceeding, then you will certainly want to have an independent executor or administrator approved to move the process along more quickly.
If you would like to speak with me or one of our other attorneys regarding a will or sucession feel free to call or email me in the New Orleans/Metairie Area at (504) 247-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On the Northshore, contact Brent Durham at (985) 246-3020 or email@example.com. In Baton Rouge, contact Paul Rabalais at 225-329-2450 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be holding free seminars in Metairie on November 16 and Mandeville on November 17 to educate people looking to protect their estate and assets from estate tax and probate costs. Go to our website, www.EstatePlanningInLouisiana.com for more details and to register for this great event.
Chris Kane, Attorney
Director, New Orleans Office