Nothing is sure in life but death and taxes. But, death and property in Louisiana are a little bit trickier than other places. Who does the property go to if you don’t have a will in place? What about community property?
These are super common questions!
Ashleigh Tuozzolo, New Orleans title attorney with Delta Title, breaks down what happens to your property depending on if it’s separate or community property.
Death & Separate Property
If you die in Louisiana and you do not have a will, any separate property you own is inherited in the following order of priority:
b. Parents and siblings (if a sibling died before you and left descendants those descendants would inherit in this category)
c. Surviving spouse
d. Ascendants (grandparents)
e. Other collateral relatives (nearest living relatives)
f. State of Louisiana
The relatives in the most favored class take to the exclusion of the other classes. So, for example, if the decedent (dead person) was married but for some reason the house he and his spouse lived in was his separate property (perhaps he inherited it or bought it prior to the marriage) the house would be inherited first by any children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. he had.
If he didn’t have any descendants then it would be inherited by any siblings (or descendants of pre-deceased siblings) and/or parents.
Only if he didn’t have any living children, siblings, descendants of pre-deceased siblings or parents would the house be inherited by his spouse.
So, theoretically, a spouse could be evicted by their in-laws! This problem could also be solved by donating the property to “the community” before you die which would make it a community asset, but then that’s not perfect either!
Death & Community Property
If you die in Louisiana and you do not have a will, your half of any community property you own is inherited in the following order of priority:
a. Descendants (surviving spouse will get a “usufruct” over this half of the property which means she/he can possess the property and derive any profits from the property)
b. Surviving spouse
If you don’t want your spouse to have to deal with your descendants when mortgaging, selling, etc. the property, then you would have to create a will stating your wishes!
This can be a real pain when you leave lots of descendants and your spouse needs to quickly mortgage or sells the property… especially because those descendants would be entitled to half of the proceeds.
Lagniappe Death & Property
Whether a person dies with or without a will, a succession of some sort will need to be done before a property can be transacted. This is where Louisiana differs from some other states.
In some states, spouses can acquire properties in such a way that when one dies the title automatically transfers to the other. This is not the case in Louisiana. No matter what, if a person dies leaving some property, a succession will need to be done in order for that property to be officially vested in that person’s heirs.
What’s the best piece of advice to take from this death & property info?
Get a will that states how your property should be handled after you’re deceased.
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