Probate law governs how to file a will and what the executor must do with the estate's assets before executing the will. In Louisiana, both the revised statutes and the code of civil procedures govern the probate process. The revised statutes tell the probate court how to treat the will, while the code of civil procedures lays out the process for contesting a will.
Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2423 governs out-of-state wills. If the will was executed in another state, it is still eligible for probate in Louisiana if the state it was written in allowed it to enter probate, and it follows all applicable laws for the state it was executed in. Louisiana probate courts consider the will to be equivalent to a will executed in Louisiana if it meets these conditions.
The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure addresses the issue of contested wills — wills where one or more heirs believes the will to be invalid. Section 2932 obligates most plaintiffs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the will is inauthentic. However, if the plaintiffs contest the will within three months of filing for probate, the defendants must prove the will is valid. Section 2904 of the Code of Civil Procedure admits video recordings of the will writer reading the will as evidence of the will's validity. The will writer must be sworn in on the video prior to reading the will.
Organ Donation Exception
Louisiana Revised Statute 17:2354 addresses the inheritance of donated organs. Unlike the rest of the will, donated organs do not need to go through the probate process. The organ donor simply needs to bequeath his organs to a beneficiary for the donation to be valid. The organ donation is still considered valid even if a judge determines the will is invalid after hearing evidence from plaintiffs contesting the will.
Probate law in Louisiana is complex, especially if the deceased person left behind debts or the decedent's heirs contest the will. Thus, if you are the executor of a will in Louisiana, consult an attorney familiar with the probate process to guide you through the process and ensure that everything is done according to Louisiana law. If you wish to contest a will, consult an attorney to determine your best options.