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Succession of Dahan

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

April 11, 2018

SUCCESSION OF HAIM DAHAN

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 745-007, DIVISION "G" HONORABLE E. ADRIAN ADAMS, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, DEBORAH B. DAHAN Jack A. Ricci Michael S. Ricci Jonathan L. Schultis

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, CO-EXECUTOR, ROTEM DAHAN Scott M. Galante Salvador I. Bivalacqua

          Panel composed of Judges Jude G. Gravois, Robert A. Chaisson, and Stephen J. Windhorst

          ROBERT A. CHAISSON JUDGE.

         In this succession proceeding, appellant, Rotem Dahan, seeks review of the trial court's April 26, 2017 judgment that granted the petition for possession filed by Deborah Bennett Dahan, the surviving spouse of the decedent. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         The decedent, Haim Dahan, died on September 22, 2014, while domiciled in Jefferson Parish. Prior to his death, the decedent had executed two wills. In the first will that was executed in Israel on October 18, 2013, the decedent left his estate to Rotem Dahan and Pazit Dahan (Kleinplatz), his two children from his first marriage to Claudine Elbaz, from whom he was judicially divorced. Thereafter, the decedent executed a second will in Jefferson Parish on August 29, 2014, and left his entire estate to his surviving spouse, Deborah Dahan, and appointed her as testamentary independent executrix of his estate.

         On December 10, 2014, Deborah Dahan, Rotem Dahan, and Pazit Kleinplatz (represented by Rotem Dahan) jointly filed a "Petition to File and Execute Notarial Will and to Confirm Independent Co-Executors." In the petition, the parties acknowledged the existence of the two wills and submitted both of them to the trial court. With regard to the Louisiana will, the petitioners affirmed that it was executed in notarial form in accordance with the provisions of La. C.C. art. 1579, and they requested that the 2014 Louisiana will be filed and executed in accordance with law. With regard to the 2013 Israeli will, the petitioners stated that they "may produce evidence at a later time that proves the validity of the Israeli Will in accordance with Louisiana Civil Code Article 2888."

         In light of the verified petition to file and execute the notarial will, the trial court signed an order directing that the August 29, 2014 Louisiana will be filed and executed according to law, thereby having the effect of probate. The trial court further authorized an independent administration of the estate and confirmed the appointment of Deborah Dahan and Rotem Dahan as the independent co-executors of the succession.

         During the course of the proceedings, certain creditors of the decedent filed claims into the record to protect their interests in the estate's assets. On March 14, 2016, Whitney Bank, one of the creditors of the succession, filed a "Motion to Require Independent Administrator to Provide Annual Account and to Provide Bond." On May 3, 2016, pursuant to an agreement between the parties, the trial court ordered that the "co-independent administrators" provide an accounting showing a list of all assets owned and liabilities owed by the succession.[1]

         On January 10, 2017, Deborah Dahan filed a "Petition for Possession with Request for Motion for Hearing." Along with the petition for possession, Deborah Dahan filed a "Sworn Descriptive List of Assets and Liabilities" of the estate of Haim Dahan. On April 17, 2017, Rotem Dahan filed an "Opposition to Petition/Motion for Possession, " noting several unresolved matters that precluded the granting of Deborah Dahan's petition for possession.

         On April 25, 2017, the trial court conducted a hearing on Deborah Dahan's petition for possession. No witnesses were called, nor were any exhibits introduced; rather, the attorneys presented their arguments to the court. The attorney for Deborah Dahan maintained that the Louisiana will had already been probated and that Rotem Dahan had ample time to challenge the validity of the will but had failed to do so; therefore, Deborah Dahan, the sole legatee, should be placed into possession in accordance with the probated will.

         In opposition to the petition, the attorney for Rotem Dahan asserted that there were numerous unresolved matters, some of which still required discovery, and thus, a judgment of possession was not appropriate at that time. Rotem Dahan particularly noted that there had been no factual determination as to which of the two conflicting wills was valid, that the assets and liabilities of the succession had not been sufficiently identified by Deborah Dahan as ordered by the trial court, that the status of the creditors of the succession was unknown ...


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