How The Louisiana Usufruct Works When Married Person Dies Without A Last Will

I was working with a couple a few days ago. They had never put any legal affairs in order and they admitted that they were very naive about the Louisiana estate planning process. 

They wanted to know how things would work for their family if one of them died with no estate legal program in place. So I went through the rules with them.

I told them that, in Louisiana, when a married person with children with absolutely no legal planning in place, then the surviving spouse would continue owning his or her share of the community property, and that after the Succession was complete, the surviving spouse would own the "usufruct" of the deceased spouse's half of the community property until the earlier to occur of the surviving spouse's death or remarriage.

They then asked, "What happens under those circumstances if one of us dies and the survivor of us wants to sell the home. Does the surviving spouse have to "settle up and pay" the children at that time?"

I told them that under the Louisiana intestate rules, if the surviving spouse wants to sell the home, the surviving spouse will have to get the written permission from the children (also known as "naked owners") in order for the house to sell. But the surviving spouse would not have to "settle up" with the kids at that time.

I explained, for example, that if the surviving spouse sells the home for $300,000, then the surviving spouse, upon the surviving spouse's death or remarriage, would have to pay the deceased spouse's children $150,000, or, half of the proceeds of the sale of the house.

I said, "Remember, these are the rules that apply when you have no legal planning in place. You have the power to change all of this by working with me to put a legal program in place."

So if you want to have a program in place to protect your family and have things go the way you want them to, give us a call at 866-491-3884 to start the conversation.