Legal Corner: Are Oral Contracts Binding in Louisiana?

Legal Corner: Are Oral Contracts Binding in Louisiana?

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Submit your questions to Civil matters only, please.

Question 1: My father passed without much property, mostly just a bank account. But the amount in the account is about the same as the costs of a succession, so I would just break even.. Are there any other options?

Answer: Yes, you can file a Small Succession as per the following statute:

Art. 3432. Affidavit for small succession; contents

A. When it is not necessary under the provisions of Article 3431 to open judicially a small succession, at least two persons, including the surviving spouse, if any, and one or more competent major heirs of the deceased, may execute one or more multiple originals of an affidavit, duly sworn before any officer or person authorized to administer oaths in the place where the affidavit is executed, setting forth:

(1) The date of death of the deceased, and his domicile at the time thereof;

(2) The fact that the deceased died intestate;

(3) The marital status of the deceased, the location of the last residence of the deceased, and the name of the surviving spouse, if any, and the surviving spouse's address, domicile, and location of last residence;

(4) The names and last known addresses of the heirs of the deceased, their relationship to the deceased, and the statement that an heir not signing the affidavit (a) cannot be located after the exercise of reasonable diligence, or (b) was given ten days notice by U.S. mail of the affiants' intent to execute an affidavit for small succession and did not object;

(5) A description of the property left by the deceased, including whether the property is community or separate, and which in the case of immovable property must be sufficient to identify the property for purposes of transfer;

(6) A showing of the value of each item of property, and the aggregate value of all such property, at the time of the death of the deceased;

(7) A statement describing the respective interests in the property which each heir has inherited and whether a legal usufruct of the surviving spouse attaches to the property;

(8) An affirmation that, by signing the affidavit, the affiant, if an heir, has accepted the succession of the deceased; and

(9) An affirmation that, by signing the affidavit, the affiants swear under penalty of perjury that the information contained in the affidavit is true, correct and complete to the best of their knowledge, information, and belief.

B. If the deceased had no surviving spouse, the affidavit must be signed by at least two heirs. If the deceased had no surviving spouse and only one heir, the affidavit must also be signed by a second person who has actual knowledge of the matters stated therein.

C. In addition to the powers of a natural tutor otherwise provided by law, a natural tutor may also execute the affidavit on behalf of a minor child without the necessity of filing a petition pursuant to Article 4061.

Question 2: I was sued in small claims court and was told I have a deadline to file exceptions. What are “exceptions”?

Answer: Exceptions are a way of objecting to a case going forward before addressing the merits of the case. For example, if you get sued in a place you have never been, you would file an Exception of Venue, and you would not have to respond to the allegations until the court rules that it is the proper place for the suit. Another example is if someone waits until the time has passed to file a suit - known as Statute of Limitations in Common Law, and Prescription in Louisiana Law, you would file an Exception of Prescription. Other examples are Exceptions of Vagueness - when the petition does not make clear what the basis of the suit is, or and Exception of Jurisdiction, for when a court does not have the authority to hear certain types of law.

Question 3: Are oral contracts binding in Louisiana?

Answer: Absolutely! An oral contract is valid as long as it contains the necessary elements of a contract, such as offer, acceptance and consideration. However, the biggest roadblock to enforcing an oral contract is usually proof. Unless the conversation is recorded, or can be verified by credible witnesses, it may be difficult to prove what was agreed to and upon what terms. However, if proof can be established, it is usually enforceable. The exception is the transfer of immovable property (land, real estate) - very rarely are oral contracts regarding land enforceable. Louisiana requires a written instrument in almost all cases.

Disclaimer: The information furnished in this answer is general and may not apply to some situations. All legal situations are unique. No one should rely to their detriment on these answers. Anyone with a potential legal problem should seek the advice of a licensed attorney before taking any action or inaction. The answers provided are not intended to be specific legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created between the SWLA Law Center and the viewers of KPLC-TV.

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