Areas of Practice > Wills, Trusts and Succession Law

Succession Law:

Mr. Harvin has always been passionate about the preparation of Last Wills & Testaments, Trusts, and in assisting families in the wrapping up of the financial affairs of a deceased family member call the “Decedent”.  Both in his working to timely resolve  uncontested and contested (heir litigated) successions.

Mr. Harvin suggests that each person make and modify as they deem fit and proper for them a Last Will & Testament; a Dying Declaration (also called an Advanced Directive or Living Will); and a Durable Power of Attorney to allow their spouse, member of their family or close friend make decisions and handle their affairs if they become unable to take care of their own needs.

Succession is the legal process by which a person’s property (the "Estate”) is transferred from the deceased person’s (the Decedent) possession/ownership to her/his heirs or others she/he specifically designates in a testament or trust document “Probate”.

Mr. Harvin believes that each person has the right to say to whom/how her/his assets and liabilities (called the “Estate”) should be transferred to and handled following that person’s death.  Neither the State nor a Decedent’s heirs should decide what becomes of the Decedent’s property.  Only the Decedent should make that decision.


 A person may state his wishes before his death by leaving a valid Last Will and Testament and/or a Trust.  In Louisiana, a Last Will and Testament mustbe written, and executed (in most cases before a Notary Public and two witnesses) and the language contained in the Last Will and Testament must specifically meet the requirements stated in the Louisiana statutes.  Fail to do so and the DECEDENT’S written wishes for transferring your property can be judicially declared NULL AND VOID and YOUR property will be transferred to your heirs as set forth, NOT BY THE DECEDENT, but by Louisiana law.


 Means the type of succession when the transfer of the Decedent’s    property is by a valid Last Will and Testament.  The person whom inherits is called an “Legatee”.  The person whom administers the Succession is normally called a Executor (male) Executrix (female).

Under specific circumstances if written in Last Will & Testament or if authorized by all heirs, by law or by the court an “Independent Administrator” can administer the Testate Succession with less direct Court supervision.


Means the type of succession where no Last Will & Testament was written, can be found or has been judicially declared null & void and of no effect.  The person whom inherits is called a “Heir”. The Person whom administrates this type of succession is called an “Administrator”.

Forced Heir

 Means under Louisiana law, those persons whom the testator or donor cannot deprive of the portion of her/his estate reserved for them by law, except in cases where her/he has a just cause to disinherit them.

 In Louisiana, prior to 1995, all children under 18 were forced heirs.  After 1995, a child is a  forced heir if:

  1. A child of the Decedent if that child is under the age of 24 at the time of the death of the Decedent;
  2.  A child of the Decedent at any age whom is permanently incapacitated (same standard as used for  guardianship/interdiction);

A grandchild can be determined to be a forced heir if her/his parent died before the Decedent and her/his parent was under the age of 24 or would have been would permanently incapacitated.

The forced portion is the net value of the Decedent’s estate (does not include life insurance nor retirement benefit, but does include any gifts or thing brought back into estate within 3 years under the doctrine of “collation”). 

If only 1 forced heir that child is entitled to receive 25% of the Decedent’s net estate.

 If more than 1 forced heir, the total number of forced heirs share 50% of the Decedent’s net estate.  One exception if more than 1 forced heir - no forced heir shall get more than he would have if the Decedent died intestate (w/out Last Will & Testament).

If the Decedent died intestate the children would have shared 100% of the Decedent’s separate property and 50% of the Decedent’s community property.  This means if 5 children or more, each would then be entitled to share less than 25% of the entire estate.

Thereafter, ANY PORTION OF THE DECEDENT’S REMAINING ESTATE AFTER THE FORCED PORTION IS TAKEN BY THE FORCED HEIRS BECOMES THE DISPOSABLE PORTION and then would go according to the Last Will & Testament or pursuant to Louisiana Intestate Succession laws.


Means the right to use and enjoy a thing and the right to draw from the same all of the profit, utility and advantage which it may produce, although ownership is invested in another.  Usually in Louisiana a spouse is given in the Decedent’s spouses Last Will & Testament the usufruct of the deceased spouse’s property during the surviving (living) spouse’s lifetime.

Necessary Steps to Take After A Love One's Death

  • Call your family and close friends if they do not already know about the Decedent’s death;
  • Arrange with funeral home to make arrangements to bury or cremate your loved one and to obtain for you, at least 8, Certified True copies of the Decedent’s Death Certificate;
  • Write obituary and get it to the local newspaper and social media for publication - include location of burial services, and where flowers or donations can be sent.
  • Immediately start collecting and preserving the necessary information and documents necessary for an attorney to handle the succession:
  • Date of death
  • Location of death - address of location and where he/she lived (decedent’s domicile address, parish and state)
  • Determine whether one or more Last Wills & Testaments were written by the Decedent and the location of each (copies of testaments generally may not be probated)
  •  Name, address and phone number of each of the Decedent’s family members, heirs and legatees;
  • Determine and make a list of the Property and Liabilities (bills/debts) that the Decedent had or left at the time of her/his death;
  • Obtain her/his bills;
  • Notify Social Security, the Veterans Administration, Railroad Retirement and all banks of the Decedent’s death and return any  SSA/VA/RR Retirement checks back which are received after the Decedent’s date of death;
  • Any unnecessary utilities should be disconnected;
  • Provide the Decedent estate attorney with written authorization to represent the estate in handling the succession;
  • You may need to open a checking account in the Decedent’s Succession name; and
  • Secure the Decedent’s home to insure that some of all personal property will not be taken or stolen.

The Harvin Law Firm is here to help and assist you and your family in preparing Last Wills & Testaments, Trusts, Dying Declarations, and Durable Power of Attorneys and in navigating the Louisiana Succession and Probate process.


Legal documents to insure how you want your estate to pass with some limitations. If you die intestate, without a will, state law controls how and to
whom your estate assets and debts are distributed.


Legal device whereby a trustee you select holds/distributes property to provide for one or more of beneficiaries you designate pursuant to terms
and conditions you set.


Legal method to transfer property at death.

Small Succession

Succession filed by affidavit in official conveyance records of deceased persons domicile if estate worth $125,000 or less and small succession
affidavit filed within 20 years of death.

Independent Administrator/Executor

Allows a person in Louisiana that you appoint as an Independent Administrator in your Last Will & Testament to administrate your estate after your
death, collect your assets and debts, pay debts, list property for sale, sell real or personal property of the estate, borrow, exchange, invest or lease
estate property without legal advertisement or court authority each time. A final accounting is required to be sent to all your heirs and if no objection to the proposed transfer your estate's succession may then be closed by the court, all at a significant cost savings to your estate and heirs..

A Will prevents your children from spending time, sometimes a lot of time, sorting out your assets and taxes, if any owed.  A Will also allows you to distribute your assets to your family as soon as possible after your death and allows for the avoidance of family financial difficulties and additional emotional stress which the death of a loved one usually causes.

A trust allows you to protect your financially incompetent children from squandering your property should you choose to leave property to them handled by a competent trustee.  A trust also allows you to transfer assets and protect your minor children or grandchildren to provide for their financial and educational future long after your gone knowing that the trustee of your trust will act with full or limited trustee powers as you direct.

Succession Worksheet

Contact The Harvin Law Firm, APLC  if you want to have a will and/or trust prepared or if you need representation to open and/or close a succession for your loved one.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site advertisement is intended to convey general information.  It should not be considered legal advice or opinion.  It is not an offer to represent you (as only a written signed legal contract by an authorized Harvin Law Firm attorney may do so), nor is it intended to nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Any emails sent via the Internet using the email address or text messages using the cell phone listed in this web site are not confidential and does not create an attorney-client relationship

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The Harvin Law Firm, APLC

Bank of Louisiana Building
636 Gause Blvd Ste. 303
Slidell, LA 70458
Office 985-781-8885
Providing Legal Services to clients in Southeast Louisiana, New Orleans, the Northshore Of St. Tammany Parish, Washington Parish and the City Courts of Slidell And Bogalusa.