Need Help With Succession? Free Help Offered this Friday


“You cannot live without the lawyers, and certainly you cannot die without them.”

Those are the words of lawyer and diplomat Joseph H. Choate in the 1800s, and they’re still true today, but help is on the way.

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This Friday, The Bonin Law firm, in conjunction with Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen, will be offering free succession casework for 60 families.

Succession is the transmission of an estate from a person to their successors following their death. Filing for succession is handled through the civil court system, where a judge oversees the process and makes final judgment on the case. After this process is complete, successors have an immediate right to possession.

While it may sound fairly straightforward, succession has traditionally been a rather complicated legal process that can cost thousands of dollars, and Christian Bonin says it has also had a large effect on one New Orleans area in particular.

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“Properties in the 9th Ward cannot be redeveloped or improved because they are tied-up in succession,” says Christian Bonin. “Hiring attorneys and paying court costs is too expensive for many people. We read about this problem in the newspaper and thought that we could help.”

A family practice, the Bonin Law Firm includes brothers Christian, Alexandre and Jean-Marc. The patriarch of the family is Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Paul Bonin, a jurist of 23 years.

The law firm’s free sessions will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Global Green Climate and Community Action Center at 5400 Douglass Street. Registration is required. People can sign up using this link or they can contact Nguyen’s office for more information.

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“Many properties in the Lower Ninth Ward have been entangled in succession challenges since Hurricane Katrina,” says Councilwoman Nguyen, who added that widespread flooding from the hurricane destroyed necessary property documentation. “We are addressing these long-standing challenges with new solutions and partnerships with Bonin Law Firm and Clerk Chelsey Richard Napoleon to assist families in this process and get these properties back into commerce.”

For her part, Napoleon will be offering assistance in completing forms and helping with civil and land records research. Succession filing fees can range from $400 to $1,200, but some low-income families may be eligible to waive filing fees to record documents. More information will be provided during the sessions.

Nguyen’s office believes that by clearing up titles to properties through succession, the 9th Ward should be able to see growth and improvement like other communities have since Katrina.

This is not the first time the law firm has offered help to the community. Recently, they participated in food drives with Reverend Robert Brown giving out more than 400 grocery bags full of food and toiletries.

“So many people say, ‘Someone should do something,” says Bonin. “We got tired of complaining about the problems in our city and decided it was time to start doing something to help our community.”



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