What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Louisiana

What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Louisiana

In Louisiana, when a person passes away without having a valid Will and Testament, it is considered that they have passed away intestate. That person’s estate will be handled by intestate succession. The assets of the deceased will be divided according to Louisiana’s intestate laws.

Note: Louisiana’s intestate laws are very mechanical. This law does not allow for the shifting of assets or altering distributions according to circumstances. Due to this lack of flexibility, Louisiana intestate laws cannot be relied upon as a substitute for a Last Will & Testament.

Louisiana’s interstate rules divide a person’s estate amongst their relatives. This includes the spouse, children, and other descendants. Louisiana’s intestate laws are based on two factors.

  • What is the property of the deceased?
  • Each family member’s relationship to the deceased

Separate Property and Community Property Separate Property

Louisiana is among a few states that use a system of community property for property ownership. In this system, assets are divided into separate and community property. The treatment of assets at death is largely determined by whether they are separate or community properties.

Separate property under Louisiana Intestate Law

In Louisiana, if a person passes away without making a will, their separate assets are distributed to his family. Louisiana Code divides the relatives in categories, and certain categories are given priority.

Distribution to the surviving descendants. Louisiana’s laws on intestate succession provide that separate property will be distributed to the children of a deceased individual first. The separate property will be divided equally among the children of the deceased.

In other states, per stirpes is equivalent to by roots. The descendants of a deceased parent will receive the same share as their child if they had lived.

As an example, suppose Shemp had three sons: Curly, Larry and Moe. Moe died several years before Shemp and left two daughters. Shemp’s two children (Curly & Larry) inherit a third of their father’s separate property at his death. Moe’s daughters will receive a sixth each of the remaining one-third.

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There are no surviving descendants but there are surviving parents and brothers or sisters. The separate property of a deceased person will be passed to the siblings with a Usufruct on life to the parents. The usufruct will be shared by both parents if they are still alive. The usufruct is the property of the parent who survives if only one parent lives, or if one parent dies later, if both parents are still alive.

There are no surviving parents or descendants, but there are surviving siblings. If the siblings share the same parents, they will receive an equal share of the separate property.

If the deceased had half-brothers or half-sisters, things get more complicated. The separate property of the deceased is then divided evenly between the mother’s line and father’s line. The property is divided equally between the mother’s and father’s families. All siblings with the same parents inherit from both lines. Half-brothers or half-sisters inherit only through their mother’s (or father’s) line.

In this context descendants of half-siblings who have died do NOT inherit their parent’s share. Children of a dead half-brother will not inherit the same as full-blood siblings.

There are no surviving siblings or descendants, but there are surviving parents. Parents inherit separate property of the deceased. Both parents will receive an equal share of the property if they are still alive. If both parents are alive, they will inherit equally.

No living descendants, parents or siblings. The property of the deceased is divided among the other relatives, based on their relationship.

Louisiana Intestate Law: Treatment of Community Property

Louisiana community property of a deceased person is divided between the spouse or descendants depending on family circumstances. Here are two scenarios that could occur:

  • Surviving descendants A surviving spouse receives a life estate over the community property of a deceased person. The usufruct ends when the surviving spouse dies or marries again. The assets will then be transferred to the descendents in full.
  • The surviving spouse has no descendants. The community property is transferred to the surviving spouse.

There is no community property if the deceased only had descendants (and not a spouse) who survived.

Special Rule for Real Estate

The treatment of gifts (donations) and intestate real estate (immovable properties) is different. The deceased person’s real estate, which was gifted by their ancestor to them, will be returned to that ancestor upon death. This rule only applies if the deceased did not have any children. Remember that a gift made to one spouse will be considered separate property.

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