LOUISIANA LAWS AFFECTING ESTATE PLANNING
The laws of the individual states vary with regard to property ownership, inheritance rights and techniques available to leave property to your heirs at death. Louisiana has a number of concepts that are unique and that are not found in other states. As an example, the term "usufruct" is used herein. Very generally this is a right of use and enjoyment over property and the right to receive all income therefrom. Another person would "own" the property, subject to this right of usufruct. This type of fragmented ownership does not exist in other states. Forced heirship is also a concept unique to Louisiana. These are but two examples of how Louisiana's laws differ from other states. Louisiana also has a system of ownership between married persons known as "community property." Not all property owned by a married couple is classified as community property as we will see below.
INHERITANCE RIGHTS WITHOUT A WILL
Once a determination is made as to what is included in your estate you need to examine how the State of Louisiana will distribute your property if you do not write a testament or otherwise validly dispose of your property in some other manner. When you have not written a Last Will, the succession is considered "intestate". If you have written a Will, your succession is "testate".
The following discussion concerns how your separate property would be distributed in an intestate succession, i.e., without a Last Will. The second part of this article discusses community property inheritance rights.
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