Law Institute Addressed Privacy Concerns with Change to Law on Filing Descriptive Lists
By Eric M. Schorr and Rose S. Sher, Co-Chairs Wills, Trusts and Successions Committee
Max Nathan, Jr., Senior Partner with the law firm of Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel, L.L.C., is the Chairman and Reporter of the Successions and Donations Committee of the Louisiana State Law Institute.
Over the past few years, Mr. Nathan and his committee members had discussions with many attorneys who practice in the area of Estate Administration regarding the Committee’s desire to amend the law to remove the requirement that an inventory or a detailed descriptive list of all succession property be filed in succession proceedings.
Because detailed descriptive lists of succession property generally contain the Decedent’s account numbers, account balances, business interests, etc., successors of the Decedent often expressed concerns to their attorneys about such information being available to the public. Accordingly, the Committee aspired to“strike an appropriate balance between publicity regarding the assets and liabilities of a decedent and privacy of the decedent and his successors.” LSA-C.C.P. Art. 3396.18 cmt. (a).
The Committee proposed revising LSA-C.C.P. Art. 3396.18, titled “Inventory or sworn descriptive list,” to permit the detailed descriptive list to be filed under seal in succession proceedings under independent administration, and the proposal became House Bill No. 121.
On recommendation of the Law Institute, Representative Gregory Miller presented House Bill No. 121 to the House of Representatives in March of this year. It passed the House (unanimously) on April 25, 2017, and was ordered to the Senate. In June of this year, House Bill No. 121 was passed by the Senate (unanimously), and was signed by Governor Edwards on June 14, 2017, becoming Act No. 198 with an effective date of August 1, 2017.
The revised Article 3396.18 is as follows:
Art. 3396.18. Inventory or sworn descriptive list
A. Before the succession can be closed and the independent administrator discharged, there must be filed an inventory or sworn detailed descriptive list of assets and liabilities of the estate verified by the independent administrator.
B. The detailed descriptive list shall be sealed upon the request of an independent administrator, heir, or legatee.
C. If the detailed descriptive list is sealed, a copy shall be provided to the decedent's universal successors and surviving spouse. Upon motion of any successor, surviving spouse, or 00467958-1 creditor of the estate, the court may furnish relevant information contained in the detailed descriptive list regarding assets and liabilities of the estate.
The revisions to Article 3396.18 are new, and many attorneys are seeking guidance on how to file a detailed descriptive list under seal. Carole Cukell Neff, managing partner at Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel, L.L.C., suggests that the seal can be requested by filing a Motion to File the Descriptive List Under Seal with a corresponding Order, and referencing Article 3396.18(B).
Some may notice that Article 3396.18(B) refers to an “independent administrator” but does not include an “independent executor.” LSA-C.C.P. Art. 3396, titled “Definitions,” provides in Paragraph (2) that “‘Independent administrator’ means the succession representative authorized by the court to administer a succession in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter [Independent Administration of Estates]. The term ‘independent administrator’ means and includes ‘independent executor’.”
Please contact Max Nathan, Jr., Carole Cukell Neff, Eric M. Schorr, Rose S. Sher or Stephanie Graf Gamble, all practicing attorneys with Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel, L.L.C. if you have any questions about the revisions to Article 3396.18.