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Succession of Booth

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

November 6, 2019

SUCCESSION OF MICHELLE BETH ROY BOOTH AND ROBERT MARK BOOTH, SR.

          ON SUPERVISORY WRITS FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF CALCASIEU, NO. 58376 HONORABLE SHARON D. WILSON, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Carla S. Sigler Bryant & Sigler, LLC Counsel for Relator: Michael Christopher Booth

          Brad Guillory Erin F. Hargrave Law Office of Brad Guillory Counsel for Respondent: Rebecca Michelle Booth

          Court composed of Elizabeth A. Pickett, Phyllis M. Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE

         The Relator seeks supervisory writs from a trial court judgment which granted relief sought by the Respondent in her Petition to File and Execute Testaments, for Removal of Administrator, and for Appointment of Independent Executrix. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court judgment and remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         The instant case arises from the succession proceedings of husband and wife, Michelle Roy Booth and Robert Mark Booth, Sr. Mrs. Booth died on March 1, 2015, and Mr. Booth died on June 4, 2018. The Booths left behind three children born of their marriage: Michael Christopher Booth, Sr., the relator herein; Rebecca Michelle Booth, the respondent herein; and Robert Mark Booth, Jr.

         Michael filed a Petition for Appointment of Administrator (Michael's Petition) on September 14, 2018, wherein he asserted, in part:

Petitioner files herewith an Affidavit of Death, Domicile, and Heirship. No valid last wills and testaments exist for either MICHELLE BETH ROY BOOTH or ROBERT MARK BOOTH, SR. Only copies of their purported last wills and testaments were located, as they have been marked "copy" on the top right-hand side of the first page, and they would be considered absolutely null under LSA-C.C.Art. 1573. They featured no signatures on each and every page, as is required for a notarial testament under LSA-C.C.Art. 1577.

         Michael was subsequently appointed as administrator.

         On October 11, 2018, Rebecca filed a Petition to File and Execute Testaments, For Removal of Administrator, and For Appointment of Independent Executrix (Rebecca's Petition), to which she attached the purported original wills of their parents. Michael filed an opposition to Rebecca's Petition, arguing that their parents' wills were "facially and fatally invalid, defective testaments." Following a hearing, the trial court signed a judgment on January 15, 2019, granting Rebecca's Petition, declaring that the decedents' wills were "valid and shall be executed according to law," removing Michael as administrator of their parents' successions, and appointing Rebecca as the independent executrix of their parents' succession.

         Michael timely sought expedited supervisory review from this court. We ordered the matter stayed pending our review of the judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         "The proper procedural vehicle to contest an interlocutory judgment that does not cause irreparable harm is an application for supervisory writs. See La. C.C.P. arts. 2087 and 2201." Brown v. Sanders, 06-1171, p. 2 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/23/07), 960 So.2d 931, 933.

         Pursuant to La.Civ.Code art. 1573, "[t]he formalities prescribed to the execution of a testament must be observed or the testament is absolutely null." The requirements for a notarial testament are found in La.Civ.Code art. 1577, which provides:

The notarial testament shall be prepared in writing and dated and shall be executed in the following manner. If the testator knows how to sign his name and to read and is physically able to do both, then:
(1)In the presence of a notary and two competent witnesses, the testator shall declare or signify to them that the instrument is his testament and shall sign his name at the end of ...

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