Clients often ask who needs a succession? The term “succession” is often used synonymously with the term “probate.” It is essentially the process of transferring the ownership from the deceased in the things he owns (“property”) to his heirs and legatees, after first paying the deceased’s creditors and the expenses of administering his estate.
Unless the assets owned by the deceased are complex, such as when the deceased owned closely-held business, was involved in law suits, or his heirs cannot get along, the process does not have to be complex or lengthy. If the deceased dies intestate (without a will) and the value of the gross estate is $75,000.00 or less, the succession can be handled by affidavit. Additionally, if the deceased died intestate over 25 years ago, the succession can be handled by affidavit, regardless of the value of the succession.
If the deceased owned titled assets (stocks, bonds, bank accounts) or immovable property (real estate) the deceased’s interest in his property cannot be transferred without the opening of a succession.
Persons inheriting from a deceased are called legatees if the deceased had a will and heirs if there is no will. If the heirs or legatees, as the case may be, can agree, the succession can be handled quickly. I have opened and closed successions in less than two (2) weeks. Of course, if the heirs and legatees cannot agree the succession can “drag” out for a period of time.
In summary, the purpose of a succession is to identify the property of the deceased, pay the deceased’s debts, and transfer the property to the deceased’s heirs or legatees. The length of time this takes depends on the type of property the deceased owned, whether his hers or legatees get along, and how motivated the heirs or legatees are to open and close the succession.