Accountability Problems Surviving Spouses Face When They Inherit a Louisiana Usufruct

I met with a woman recently. She was much younger than her husband. Her husband had children from a previous marriage. Her husband had a Louisiana last will and testament which, among other things, left her the usufruct of his etate. Initially, she felt comforted that she had this usufruct, and that she would have funds available in the event she needs them for long term care or other medical or other expenses she might incur after her husband dies.

She made an incorrect assumption when she asked me, "Paul, if my husband leaves me the usufruct of $500,000, and I spend $400,000 of that after he dies to cover my medical expenses, then isn't it correct that his children/naked owners only get the $100,000 that remains when I die?"

I said, "Nope, that's incorrect." I told her that if she spends that money that she has usufruct of (the $500,000), she will still owe his kids the original amount ($500,000), even if there is not enough cash in her estate to pay this usufructuary debt. She then realized that it might be possible that her home could not go to her son because, after she dies, her home may have to be sold to pay her husband's children the usufructuary debt amount.

I find that this is one of the things that Louisianians don't like about the Louisiana usufruct. It can place an undue burden on the surviving spouse , or the surviving spouse's estate, often to the detriment of the surviving spouse, or his or her children.

There's several alternative ways for your spouse to leave you access but prevent such an undue burden. Get yourself educated about these alternatives from me and then have peace of mind that you or your family won't be put in a bind.

Call 866-491-3884. We help people all over this great State of Louisiana.