LEGAL CORNER: How can my children receive their inheritance if the executor won’t get the paperwork?

Published: Jul. 12, 2023 at 11:58 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: My sister-in-law is executor for my father-in-law’s will. He received oil checks. He passed away and she is the only living sibling. My adult kids’ father, who is deceased, left his share for his children. My kids’ dad passed away nine years ago and my father-in-law passed away five years ago. My sister-in-law still has not been to the lawyer that did paperwork so they can receive their father’s share in the oil royalties. What can they do?

ANSWER: According to Louisiana inheritance laws, if one dies with a will and the estate has a value greater than $125,000, surviving spouses and children must undergo probate. The Louisiana probate process ensures heirs receive their shares of the estate as intended by the decedent (the person who has died).

If the decedent left a will, then the executor serves to essentially manage the assets during the process of establishing the will’s validity. During the transfer process, the executor can transfer mineral rights to the heirs.

To transfer rights, it is highly recommended that an attorney or title insurance company completes a title search to make sure the decedent had the right to convey the rights.

Also through the probate process, if there is a current lease on the mineral rights, the executor can transfer interest in the lease into your name so you can collect the compensation it affords.

QUESTION: Should online or “self-help” forms be used for legal matters, especially in Louisiana?

ANSWER: When a person represents himself, he is referred to as a “self-represented litigant” or “pro se litigant.”

Fill-in-the-blank forms are commonly used by self-represented litigants to bring their legal issues before a court. However, there are certain risks when using legal forms, especially in Louisiana courts. Many forms found online do not comply with Louisiana law and may be considered invalid. It is also possible that a form will not address a party’s exact situation or that it will not add in the outcome that a party wishes to achieve or accomplish in court.

When using forms, it is better to find a form or forms provided by a Louisiana legal aid or legal services organization, such as the Southwest Louisiana Law Center, rather than an out-of-state company. Forms can be purchased at the Law Center for a nominal cost.

The Law Center is located at 1011 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 402 (The Magnolia Building) in Lake Charles. The telephone number is 337-436-3308.