Probate vs. Non-probate Assets in Louisiana

Estate planning is a complex subject with intimidating terms, including legalese most people cannot understand without a Juris Doctor (JD). If you’ve avoided this topic, you are not alone. Niswanger Law provides comprehensive estate planning along with straightforward explanations of legal terms, such as probate and non-probate assets.

Here is a quick look at probate vs. non-probate assets in the context of Louisiana estate planning.

Top angle view of toy wooden house, coins. money banknote and wooden tag written with text “PROBATE.” Concept image of “Probate vs. Non-probate Assets in Louisiana” | Niswanger Law in West Monroe, LA.

Non-probate Assets

Non-probate assets are outside of the will’s jurisdiction. Examples of non-probate assets are accounts such as:

  • IRA retirement accounts
  • 401k accounts
  • 403b accounts
  • Life insurance

Even annuity payouts fall under the umbrella of non-probate assets. Such assets pass at death to loved ones, friends, or other parties through formal beneficiary forms instead of a will. Such forms are typically provided by one of the following:

Such assets are not passed on through succession or the legal tool that is a decedent’s will unless the estate has named a beneficiary. 

Every West Monroe resident should know that listing the estate as a beneficiary of a tax-deferred retirement account can result in undesirable income tax losses. 

Niswanger Law reviews all beneficiary designations on non-probate assets to ensure accuracy. We also provide legal insight that helps West Monroe, LA residents confirm that non-probate assets are correct.

If a beneficiary has passed away or the plan participant has remarried, the guidance of an attorney will prove invaluable. Moreover, the plan account use or purpose upon death, the potential minor status of the beneficiary, and the naming of a successor beneficiary in the event of the primary beneficiary’s passing also matter.

Probate Assets

An individual will directly address probate property. A will entails probate property the decedent owns at the time of their death. Probate property passes through a process supervised by the court, transferring the assets listed in the will to the beneficiary at the time of death.

Examples of probate property include:

  • Real estate
  • Automobiles
  • Stocks
  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Bank accounts

What If There Is No Will?

A West Monroe resident who lacks a will is referred to as intestate. An intestate individual’s property goes through a formal legal process that divides those assets into the non-probate and probate categories listed above. 

The property is then transmitted per Louisiana’s intestate laws. An administrator is appointed to gather and transmit property for compliance with Louisiana law.

If the decedent passes with a will in place, the will is presented in court. The court then authorizes the executor to collect the property in anticipation of its distribution following those named in the will.

If a will is in place, it is possible to sidestep succession to fulfill another’s estate plan terms. Louisiana uses succession as a legal process to administer the dead person’s estate. 

Schedule a Consultation With Niswanger Law

Instead of attempting to master your understanding of Louisiana probate laws, reach out to Niswanger Law for guidance. Our succession lawyer will help determine if succession is necessary and guide you through the process. 

Our estate planning attorneys will help you achieve invaluable peace of mind. If you don’t have a will or haven’t updated your will after a life event, reach out to us today. Call us at (318) 953-0071. Our office is located at 3820 Cypress Street, West Monroe, LA 71291.