What is a survivorship clause in a last will and testament?
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Quite frankly, it's a clause that is often in wills that no one understands, and is rarely applicable. It's one of those provisions that gets consumers to say something like, "Well I guess this is just more of that legalese that lawyers put in legal documents."
Here's some background: You cannot make a bequest of full ownership of an asset and require that they preserve it for another person. That, under Louisiana law, is called a prohibited substitution.
However, you may make a bequest of an asset to someone, and impose as a condition on the bequest, that they survive you for a stipulated period, which period shall not exceed six months after your death.
Let's say you leave your home to Harold. But if Harold were to die right after you (let's say one month after you), you would not want your home to go to Harold's heirs - you would want your home, rather, to go to Sally. You could leave your home to Harold subject to the suspensive condition that Harold survive you for six months. Then, when Harold dies one month after you die, your home will go to Sally, instead of Harold's heirs.
Since "Joe Public" doesn't, at first glance, understand the terms "suspensive condition" or "survivorship clause", these provisions often cause confusion and rarely are applicable.
One other note worth mentioning: the existence of a six month survivorship clause can hold up the Louisiana Succession, or perhaps even the trust settlement, because the rights of Harold, in our example above, are "in suspense" until the six month survivorship time period expires.
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