When a Louisiana resident passes without a will, his or her estate is handled under Louisiana intestate law. The succession of inheritors depends on property classifications and relationship to the person who has passed.
If you or a parent do not have a will, the following order of inheritance may someday apply:
Generally, property acquired by either spouse during their marriage is considered “community property” in Louisiana. Exceptions may be made if otherwise specified in a pre-nuptial agreement or in instances where property is considered “separate.” Community property is usually split in a 50/50 ownership between spouses during marriage. However, if one spouse dies without a will, their half of the estate would be inherited in order of the following heirs:
- Child(ren) or, if deceased, descendants of child(ren), with a usufruct to the surviving spouse
- Surviving spouse (if there are no children)
- Estate is treated as separate property if there is no child(ren) or surviving spouse
Separate property is defined as assets that one spouse was individually gifted or granted. This may include property owned before marriage, property inherited by one spouse or gifts given only to one spouse. The order of succession for separate property when there is no will is as follows:
- Child(ren) or, if deceased, descendants of child(ren)
- Sibling(s) or, if deceased, descendants of sibling(s), with a usufruct to the living parent(s)
- Grandparents or other ascendants
- Nearest relative
- State of Louisiana
Wills are also useful for naming a tutor for minor children, create a trust for grandchildren, handling special needs heirs, saving estate taxes for larger estates and designating a responsible executor to manage your estate once you have passed.
If you or a parent does not have a will, you can contact an attorney to ensure that the order of succession for certain assets is set up according to preference.