The laws governing what happens to a deceased person’s property in Louisiana can differ from what may happen in many other states. One interesting aspect of estate law in the Bayou State is what happens to property when the deceased person did not have a will.
Community versus separate property
When a person dies without a will, the first order of business is designating the property left behind as either community or separate property. Community property includes property acquired during a marriage. This property belongs to both spouses without regard to which spouse acquired the property. Separate property includes:
- Property one spouse owned before the start of the marriage
- Property one spouse inherited during the marriage
- Property received as a gift by a spouse during the marriage
Handling separate property
Louisiana’s intestate succession laws provide for separate property left by a deceased person to go to family members. The law divides these family members into categories, with some categories enjoying more priority than others.
Children are first in line to inherit separate property. The belongings are divided equally among descendants when more than one surviving child exists. If one or more of the children is deceased, their share of the inheritance passes to their children.
The property of a person not survived by descendants will go to surviving siblings. But this inheritance is subject to a usufruct for life for surviving parents. A usufruct allows for the use of a home or other property without direct ownership.
Handling community property
The community property left behind by a deceased person goes to a spouse or descendants. When the deceased person leaves behind both a spouse and descendants, the spouse receives to use and receive the income from the community property. This property passes on to descendants once the spouse dies. When no descendants exist, the spouse inherits all community property alone.
Louisiana’s succession laws can sometimes involve complex rules and regulations that can become difficult for people unfamiliar with the process to navigate. Individuals with questions regarding estate law may find the answers they need by speaking with an attorney.