Paul Rabalais Usufruct

Can Person With Usufruct Make Improvements and Alterations to Property?

This explains whether someone who has the Louisiana usufruct has the right to make improvements or alterations to property.

Let's say, for example, that Husband and Wife entered into marriage later in life as a blended family. They each have their own kids. They decide to move into Wife's home. Wife doesn't want husband kicked out of her home (by her kids) if she dies before him. So she writes a Will and leave Husband the lifetime usufruct of the home. Wife later dies. Succession gets completed. Husband has usufruct, and is living in, the home. Wife's children are the naked owners.

Now Husband wants to make some improvements to the home (mancave, outdoor kitchen, hot tub, etc.). Can he do it? 

Louisiana law says that, in this instance, Husband can make improvements and alterations AT HIS COST AND WITH THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE NAKED OWNER. If the naked owners don't give consent, Husband may, AFTER NOTICE TO THE NAKED OWNERS AND WITH APPROVAL OF THE COURT, MAKE AT HIS COST THOSE IMPROVEMENTS AND ALTERATIONS THAT A PRUDENT ADMINISTRATOR WOULD MAKE.

In most cases, parties in these situations don't think to seek out what the rules are and to see if they are in compliance with the rules. They tend to just do what they want because they thing they can. Then, the naked owners start to scream at the usufructuary, and all hell breaks loose.

Better, in these cases, to ask first for permission, rather than to act first and ask for forgiveness later.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Paul Rabalais
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.RabalaisEstatePlanning.com
Phone: (225) 329-2450

Wife Inherits Usufruct. What are Usufructuary Rights? Obligations To Naked Owners?

There's lots of confusion out there in the great state of Louisiana about there about the rights and obligations of someone who owns the usufruct. This should start to clear things up.

It is common, when a married person dies, whether they had a last will and testament or not, for their surviving spouse to inherit the usufruct. People try to guess what everyone's rights are without realizing there is specific Louisiana law which dictates the rights and obligations of the usufructuary.

First, we must determine whether an asset is a consumable thing or a nonconsumable thing. Then we can determine the usufructuary's rights.

Let's say, for example, that Husband died without a last will and testament. On the date that Husband died, Husband and Wife owned community property. They owned $400,000 in their bank accounts, and they owned 1,000 shares of stock in ABC Corporation.

Money is a consumable thing because it cannot be used without being expended or consumed. The share of stock are a nonconsumable thing because they may be enjoyed without alteration of their substance.

When Wife inherited the usufruct of $200,000 of money (a consumable thing), Wife became the owner of it and could consume it as she sees fit. But when she dies or remarries, she owes the naked owners $200,000, regardless of what happened to the money after she received it.

When Wife inherited the usufruct of 500 shares of stock of ABC Corporation (a nonconsumable thing), she gets to keep the dividends that the shares produce, but when she dies or remarries, whichever occurs first (the termination of Wife's usufruct), she must deliver the 500 shares to the naked owners, regardless of their appreciation or depreciation. 

And when a nonconsumable is sold, the usufruct attaches to the money that is the proceeds of the sale, and usufruct becomes a usufruct of a consumable.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Paul Rabalais
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.RabalaisEstatePlanning.com
Phone: (225) 329-2450