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How Do I Find Out What Life Insurance Policies or Bank Accounts a Deceased Person Owned?

This is a common concern among many of our Louisiana succession clients. When a person dies, the family is left with the task of locating life insurance policies and bank accounts. It can be a white knuckle experience as those left behind search for money to help them get back on their feet, especially if the deceased was the primary breadwinner and left behind young children. A question we get often is “How do we know what accounts or life insurance policies they had?”

While there is no sure way to know for sure without some digging, (there is no registry for these accounts), there are a few ways you can begin your search.

First, let’s talk about one way to find accounts that will take a great deal of leg work, but can be a fruitful endeavor. Let’s run an example: Mom died and left behind a last will and testament in Louisiana, naming Daughter as the executor of her estate. The other children are asking about other accounts that Mom may have owned and each gives stories about going to the such and such bank with her to make deposits. Daughter comes to our law firm and we set her up with paperwork to get her confirmed as the executor of Mom’s estate through the court system. The court then issues certified copies of what is called “Letters of Independent Executorship.” This gives Daughter the power to go to financial institutions where she believes Mom had accounts and do a search. The institutions she visits will then be able to disclose to Daughter account information upon presentation of the Letters of Independent Executorship.

If you live in a small town with few banks, your search may not take long. However, larger cities could have you searching for days.

Another thing you can do is check their mail. Statements usually come monthly, so you could theoretically locate the bank account information that way. If Mom set up her account to receive her statements electronically, you may have a harder time unless you know her email password. Also, go back and find her tax returns from years back. There’s a good chance you can find helpful information there. Many tax returns are deposited by direct deposit. You may not find the exact account number, but at least you may find out which bank she used. You can then bring your Letters of Executorship that our firm assisted you with and take it to the bank manager to help you locate the accounts.

While there may not be a central registry where you can inquire about property and assets owned by a deceased family member, there are numerous ways you can search to locate bank accounts and life insurance policies owned by the deceased. Our Louisiana estate planning and succession law firm can assist you with this process and show you the direction to take.

Also, keep in mind that this situation can be avoided if you come see us during your lifetime and create an inventory of property and assets and give your chosen executor of your estate or a trusted family member access to this information. This will help them wrap up your estate and put heirs in possession of your property much more efficiently as opposed to having them search all over town and potentially miss something. If you paid for an account, you definitely want your family to have the benefit of those funds and not let them go to waste in a bank account.

Come see us at the Andries Law Firm and we will set you up with an estate plan that will alleviate many problems in the future. If you have just lost a loved one and have questions about succession law, please give us a call and tell us your story.

This post was written for informational uses only and should not be used as legal advice. Reading articles on this Louisiana Succession Law website does not form an attorney/client relationship with the Andries Law Firm. Please contact our office with any questions you may have regarding Louisiana Successions Estate Planning before using any information contained on this website as the laws are complex and change often. Do not base important legal decisions on articles contained herein, but instead, give us a call to walk you through the process.

Attorney Jerome Andries

Andries Law Firm

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

Similar Louisiana Succession Law Articles: Do I need to Hire a Probate Attorney?How to Find out What Accounts a Deceased Individual HadHow Long Do I Have to File a Succession in Louisiana?What Happens When a Spouse Dies Without a Will?Louisiana Usufruct Law

 

How Long Do I Have to File a Succession in Louisiana?

If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering how long you can wait to file a Louisiana Succession. Maybe you just lost someone close to you and you can’t bear to even think about it, or your loved one passed away many years ago. Either way, we’re here to help.

You can file a succession at any point, however, it gets more difficult the longer you wait. Our Louisiana succession law firm has helped people file as early as the week after, as well as years after death.

I can tell you from experience, if you wait too long, money will get spent and property will deteriorate. We’ve done successions where we were tasked with putting a value on livestock that had died years prior and vehicles that had been diminished to rust buckets. It’s also difficult to track down bank accounts and life insurance policies at that point. People forget where things are and they end up sitting there for years and sometimes even decades before a succession is opened to put heirs into possession.

Do you have to file a succession as soon as the person dies? No, you do not. Sometimes it’s best to mourn and wait a while before dealing with the succession issues. I’ve had clients call me from the funeral to ask questions. Don’t do that. Spend time with your family and get closure. Our business can wait.

You can put someone in charge of dealing with and tying up loose ends. Most Louisiana Wills name an executor of the estate and their task is to wrap up the succession issues and make sure everything is handled properly. They are also the ones that are responsible for hiring the attorneys and getting legal representation for the estate. If this happens to be you, we can walk you through the process that you need to complete in order to wrap up the succession the quickest and easiest way possible.

How Long Does it Take to Complete A Succession?

It’s hard to tell exactly how long it will take to open a succession, file the appropriate paperwork and close the succession with a signed Judgment of Possession from the Judge. If we have everything we need and don’t have to search for items or heirs, we can usually get it complete in a matter of weeks. Remember, a portion of that time has to do with tracking things down and with the judge assigned to the matter and how long it takes their office to process the succession paperwork.

On the other hand, we’ve had successions that took nearly a year to complete due to extenuating circumstances such as community property that wasn’t dealt with before the individual passed away, missing property and other issues.

If you’re still in the estate planning process, be sure to let others know where certain properties and documents are. We usually recommend keeping a detailed binder in a safe place that lists items and where to find them. If you have named an executor in your will, be sure they have what they need to complete the job and don’t have to spend months searching. I’ve had executors come to me that had no idea where to find a single item. We were able to help, but it took much longer than it would have had they been provided with more detailed information regarding the estate.

If you need help with a Louisiana succession or are an out of state heir and have questions, just let us know! We’ve helped many families with their successions and would be happy to help you as well.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Contacting or reading the website does not form an attorney/client relationship with the law firm. It’s important that you contact our office with any questions regarding Louisiana successions as the laws are complex and continually changing. It is important that you do not base any legal decisions on articles contained on this website.

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

Similar Louisiana Succession Law Articles:

Do I need to Hire a Probate Attorney?How to Find out What Accounts a Deceased Individual HadHow Long Do I Have to File a Succession in Louisiana?What Happens When a Spouse Dies Without a Will?, Louisiana Usufruct Law

 

What Happens When One Spouse Dies Without A Will (Intestate) In Louisiana?

This is an unfortunate scenario that plays out all too often. First, let’s explain what “intestate” means. Simply put, it means you died without a Last Will and Testament in place. Louisiana has a specific set of rules that come into play in the event you do not execute a valid Louisiana Will. These rules will determine who gets your property. The rules are not always favorable to the surviving spouse, nor are they always what you would have wanted.

In the majority of succession cases we deal with where one party dies without a will, the surviving spouse comes to see us to explain their rights to the property. It’s a hard pill to swallow when we explain that they technically only own their ½ of the community property in full ownership, but the kicker is the deceased spouse’s ½. If you have children, that actually goes to them in naked ownership, with the surviving spouse having usufruct. That sounds fine until you understand the Louisiana term “usufruct” and what it means for your property ownership. Usufruct in Louisiana is the “use” of the property. You have to give it to the naked owners when your usufruct expires. The law states that usufruct expires when you die or remarry, whichever comes first. You CAN have a usufruct for life, regardless of whether you remarry, but that MUST be set up before the owner of the property dies. This is usually done in the form of a Louisiana Will that gives a “Lifetime Usufruct” to the individual.

Let’s say in our example Mom died without a will, leaving Dad to live in the home by himself. They had children, some his, some hers from a previous marriage. Everything is fine until Dad decides to remarry.

This is where most problems arise. You see, Dad only owns ½ of the marital home outright, he has usufruct of the other ½ that was owned by his deceased wife. Usufruct only gives Dad the “use” of the property until he dies or remarries, whichever happens first.

In this scenario, Dad is remarrying, thus his usufruct will expire and he no longer has “use” of her ½ of the property.

What happens now? Well, a few things can happen. The children can reclaim their inheritance from their Mom in full ownership and kick Dad out of the home on the day he marries Step-Mom. (It’s usually the step-children that do this, but we see it with blood related children as well).

The other option is the children can donate their inheritance back to Dad and he will own the property in full ownership. BUT, they don’t have to.

The biggest issue we see in estate and succession work at our office is when a new person (step-parent) is introduced into the picture. This creates a certain level of anger and sometimes hatred towards the surviving parent.

Adult children will say things like: “Dad, we were ok with everything until you decided to get remarried to HER! We don’t want her (Step-Mom) living in Mom’s home with you.” Or, the step-children whom never really cared for Dad will step forward and reclaim their inheritance as soon as he remarries.

This is their right under the law of usufruct in Louisiana. There are ways to avoid this happening by establishing an estate plan that outlines who inherits your property when you die. This is usually accomplished by a Louisiana Last Will and Testament in one of two ways:

  1. You give your partner the property in FULL OWNERSHIP. This will allow them to own the property and not have to worry about a thing after you die. Keep in mind, when your partner dies, the property will stay in his/her lineage. This means your ½ of the community property will go to your partner’s family when they die. If this is not your desire, then;
  2. You give your partner a LIFETIME USUFRUCT. A lifetime usufruct will allow your surviving partner to remain and use the home until they die, whether they get remarried or not. At that point, the property will revert back to your lineage and your children can have it. This is what most people do as they want their spouse to enjoy and use the property, but want it to eventually go back to their heirs at a later date.

Remember, once you die, you cannot come back to tell us what you wanted to do with your property! These situations are much easier to fix on the front end and our firm can execute a few documents to ensure your wishes are carried out and your spouse isn’t kicked out of the family home.

If you are located anywhere in Louisiana and need help with a matter such as this, feel free to give my law firm a call and we’ll discuss a plan that will take care of your needs without breaking the bank.

This article is meant for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Nor, does it form an attorney/client relationship with the Law Firm. Laws change often and it is important that you contact our office to speak with an attorney before making any decisions based on articles contained on this website.

 

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorneys

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

 

How to Transfer Louisiana Succession Property in More than one Parish

It’s fairly common for an individual to own property in multiple parishes. A question we get asked often is “What do you do if someone owns property all over the state?”

We get this scenario often. Here’s a quick example of how this usually plays out: Decedent lived and died in Rapides Parish, but owned real estate property in Avoyelles Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, St. Tammany Parish and so on. He left behind a number of heirs and named his daughter as the executor of his Will to handle his succession matters. Now her job is to have the property in each parish transferred into the children’s name per his wishes, but he has property scattered all over Louisiana.

It sounds like a daunting task, but we can walk you through the procedure to get property from other parishes in Louisiana transferred to heirs without painstakingly traveling to each individual parish.

First things first, we open the Louisiana Succession (Testate or Intestate):

  1. Open Succession. A Louisiana Succession must be opened in the parish where the deceased was domiciled at the time of his death. Domicile can thought of as your home, or the parish you consider your permanent place of residence. This can be confusing when you have an individual that had multiple homes. We use the one they intended to stay and use as their home. It does not matter that the deceased may have had real estate in multiple parishes, you must file the succession in the parish where the deceased was domiciled. All pleadings related to the succession must be filed in the Succession suit record in the district court where the individual was domiciled, no matter how much property the deceased had in other parishes. This includes all court petitions relating to the succession, descriptive list of all assets and debts, court documents, orders and judgments.
  2. A Judgment of Possession must be signed by the judge: Once the succession is filed in the proper court and everything is submitted, the district court judge in the parish where the deceased was domiciled will look at the documents and sign a court order known as a Judgment of Possession. Our office will prepare and send this with the petitions and verifications. Once the judgment is signed, the Clerk will send certified copies to our law firm for processing. We request multiples in the event the decedent owned property in multiple parishes.
  3. We Record Judgment of Possession in All Parish Where Real Estate is Owned. Our office will take the certified copies of the Judgment of Possession that the court sends and record them in the conveyance records in each parish where the deceased owned immovable property (real estate). This puts third parties on notice that property has been transferred to the heirs and helps avoid any confusion further down the road.

 

It can be time consuming and expensive, but this is what the law states must be done when someone dies in Louisiana and owns property in multiple parishes. However, if you own property in multiple STATES, a Louisiana Succession will not transfer the property to heirs. You will have to hire an attorney in each state wherein real estate property is located. Many people want to avoid this and choose to set up a Living Trust so that probate proceedings are not required after death. This will transfer property in multiple states to the Trust.

If you have questions about a Louisiana Succession or Trust, give us a call at (318) 229-1608.

This article is for information purposes only and does not provide legal advice, nor does it form an attorney/client relationship.

 

Attorney Jerome Andries

Louisiana Succession and Estate Planning Attorney

www.AndriesLawFirm.com

Phone: (318) 229-1608

How to Get Confirmed as the Executor of a Louisiana Succession

There are a handful of steps required to get an executor of a Succession in Louisiana confirmed. It’s important to follow the law and make sure you don’t miss anything. Once the Judge signs and the executor is confirmed by the court, he/she can then access bank accounts, sell assets and real property and be able to handle other aspects of the estate.

Executor of a succession is an important job and whoever named you in their will must have had faith that you would handle their business after they passed. Some look at it as an honor, others a burden they did not ask for, but we’re here to help you through the process.

An executor of a succession is normally named in the Will, however, just because you are named as the executor does not give you the power to act. Not just yet. You must first go through the process and submit to the court to be confirmed.

This checklist does not substitute for legal advice, nor do we suggest you attempt it on your own. A mistake can cost you drastically and can delay the succession. We recommend calling us and scheduling an appointment, this is just for reference and to let you know what to expect.

  1. Gather the original Last Will and Testament of the deceased. It must be the one that was signed and names the executor to the succession. We will need to submit the original to the court for probate;
  2. Petition to probate the Last Will and Testament and Confirmation of Independent Executrix;
  3. Plaintiff verifications must be signed and notarized;
  4. Affidavit of Death, Domicile and Heirship is prepared and signed by two (2) people who knew the deceased. This is just proof that the individual is actually deceased and that there is a will;
  5. The executor signs the Oath which states they swear to perform their duties as Executor or Executrix of the succession. This is done in front of a notary as well;
  6. Our firm will prepare Letters of Executorship that will go to the clerk of court for signature. You, as the executor, will need certified copies to handle things such as banking.

We gather this information from you and compile it into a packet to send to the court for signatures. Don’t hold your breath on this part, it could take weeks. Sometimes the court system gets backed up and it takes time for the paperwork to go from the Clerk’s office to the Judge’s office where he/she will have to check for accuracy before signing. We will give you updates as to the progress at any point of the succession work.

Once you have the certified copies of the Letters of Executorship, you are ready to handle estate matters.

Call us for any questions you may have and we will gladly walk you through the process!

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Using this site or communicating with Andries Law Firm, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

Jerome Andries
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.AndriesLawFirm.com
Phone: (318) 229-1608

How Much Does a Succession Cost in Louisiana?

This is a question we get often and it’s not easy to answer, but I’ll try.

Succession costs vary immensely depending on the complexity of the situation and what type of legal representation is involved. You will encounter a number of fees when filing a succession in Louisiana including, but not limited to: attorney fees, court filing fees, real estate fees, accounting fees and fees for the executor of the estate. It’s difficult to assess these fees until we hear your particular story as they vary widely from case to case.

There are different ways that attorneys get paid to handle Louisiana successions.

First, you have traditional payment arrangements that go by the attorney’s hourly rate. This is the way the legal business has handled legal fees since the beginning. Many clients cannot afford to hire an attorney this way because the legal fees are unknown with hourly billing. It’s hard to tell up front how much you will end up paying your attorney because he/she doesn’t know what they will encounter. You pay for every phone call, email, letter to opposing attorney, legal advice and discussions. This can add up! Clients get gun shy about calling their own attorney to ask questions out of fear of being charged the hourly rate.

Louisiana does not have a specific fee schedule set by lawmakers. Law firms are open to charge basically any way they choose, including percentage based. A small percentage of firms charge for successions based on the amount of assets in the estate. These fee arrangements are rare and I would recommend using caution if you ever encounter one.

The other and arguably best option for clients is “flat rate” billing. This is a more economical way to pay for attorney services. We use this often at the Andries Law Firm because it benefits our clients. We charge you a one-time fee to handle the succession from beginning to end. That means we answer your phone calls, emails and set up appointments any time you have questions or need to discuss the legal matter at hand without charging you additional hourly rates.

With that being said, there are different amounts charged even with a flat rate agreement. If all heirs agree and the property is easy to find; you could be looking at a rate of $1,250-$3,500 plus court costs. Court costs for Louisiana successions can range from $250 to $500 depending on parish. If any issues are apparent or litigation is necessary, the cost could easily go higher.

The best way to get an estimate on legal fees for a succession is to schedule an appointment with our attorney at (318) 229-1608 or email Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com.

How Long Does The Succession (Probate) Process Take in Louisiana?

Short answer: it depends.

We’ve successfully completed Louisiana successions in a matter of weeks, but the average time will be two to nine months to get everything wrapped up and signed with the court. There are numerous factors that go into filing a succession in Louisiana and any one of them can lead to an issue that holds up the succession process.

What is a succession? A Louisiana succession is the transmission of the estate of the deceased to his/her successors. The succession process is also known as probate and is overseen by the court. The successors have the right to take possession of the estate of the deceased once they have complied with Louisiana succession law. There are two main types of successions: testate (with a will) and intestate (no will). You can read more about the differences HERE.

What is the succession process?

First, a petition must be filed with the court to open the succession. The filings must include the Last Will and Testament (if one exists), an original death certificate and the required affidavits in order to comply with Louisiana probate law. You want to make sure ALL of the Louisiana succession rules are followed or you risk the succession taking even longer to complete and costing more in legal fees.

Next, the property of the individual must be listed in a detailed descriptive list. The property must be described fully and valued. This part of the succession normally takes the longest because many people have property spread out over the state of Louisiana and other states. Each item must be located and added to the succession petition. This includes movables such as vehicles, as well as immovables. This could also determine which parish in Louisiana the succession will be filed. Read this article on “In what parish do I file a Louisiana succession” to learn more about where to file a succession.

Lastly, the petition to close the succession must be filed. This is usually in the form of a Judgement of Possession. If everything has been submitted correctly and no one has stepped forward to contest the succession such as the validity of the will, the judge will then sign the judgment and place successors into possession of the assets. This will close the succession.

If the property of the deceased is known and the heirs agree to accept the succession without fighting, the process can be completed in a few weeks. A more complex Louisiana succession may take months or longer to complete, especially if litigation is involved. On average, we inform clients it will take two to nine months.

A dispute between heirs can be one of the hardest things a family can go through. It can cause financial consequences and make communication difficult. Unfortunately, we see this a lot. Many disputes can be worked out, but some cannot and require expensive litigation. An example is when a party brings an action to invalidate the will. This can considerably add to the expense and time involved with a Louisiana succession.

At the Andries Law Firm, we help families with their succession matters as efficiently as possible. We understand how difficult this situation can be for you, both financially and emotionally. It’s tough to put the pieces together when you’ve just lost a loved one. Our attorneys can help you manage the situation and direct you on what steps need to be taken to protect and care for your loved ones. Call us for a consultation at (318) 229-1608 or email Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Using this site or communicating with Andries Law Firm, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.

R. Jerome Andries
Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
www.AndriesLawFirm.com
Phone: (318) 229-1608

 

In what Parish do I file a Louisiana Succession?

This is a question that we receive often. It’s fairly easy for people to acquire property in different parishes, especially when they’ve been married and divorced a time or two. An ever changing job market sends people across parish and state lines and back again and this can create a headache when the time comes to split up property between heirs.

We’re here to help you with your Louisiana succession here at the Andries Law Firm. At this point, you are probably dealing with a great deal of stress after the recent passing of a loved one or you are plotting out ways to make it easier on your heirs when you pass. Either way, we are here to help you along the way.

We highly recommend that you speak with an experienced Louisiana succession attorney at the Andries Law Firm to get additional information that may not be covered in this article.

Where do I file a succession in Louisiana?

The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure provides us with the answer:

A proceeding to open a succession shall be brought in the district court of the parish where the deceased was domiciled at the time of his death.

If the deceased was not domiciled in the state at the time of his death, his succession may be opened in the district court of any parish where:

  1. Immovable property of the deceased is situated; or,
  2. Movable property of the deceased is situated, if he owned no immovable property in the state at the time of his death.

Let’s break that code article down and explain it better. No matter where a person may have property situated in the state, his/her succession is to be opened in the district court of the parish where he/she was domiciled when he/she died. What does domicile mean in Louisiana? This is an important distinction when determining where to file such matters as a divorce or succession.

The domicile of a person is the place of his habitual residence. A person may live in multiple places, but can only have one domicile. This means you can own numerous homes, but your domicile is where you intend to stay.

In determining which parish to file a Louisiana succession, you must determine domicile to know which district court to file the petition. For example: Bob owns three homes, one in Rapides parish, Avoyelles parish and Grant parish. His main home is in Rapides parish where he dies. His parish of last domicile was Rapides Parish and that is where his succession will be filed.

Now that you have a better understanding of domicile in Louisiana, let’s say the deceased had moved out of Louisiana, but still had some of the homes when he died. You would then file the succession in the district court of any parish where the immovable property (homes) are located.

Sounds easy? What if the deceased had sold the homes and moved out of state before dying? In that case, you look to find movables such as vehicles or trailers and file in the parish where that property is located.

Most Louisiana successions are filed in the parish where the person died, but I wanted you to be aware that there are other scenarios to consider.

Is a Louisiana Succession Necessary? Is Probate Required in Louisiana?

A succession is a vehicle in which to transfer the estate of the deceased to his successors. This gives the successors the right to take possession of the estate and property of the deceased upon complying with Louisiana succession law.

A succession in required in Louisiana whether a person dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate), unless there is another way to transfer the assets to heirs. Life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts and IRAs require beneficiary designations and thus have the ability to go directly to the beneficiaries named in the paperwork on the account. This is a great reason to purchase life insurance for your heirs in Louisiana. In these instances, the beneficiary to the account can submit a certified death certificate and a beneficiary claim form to have these assets turned over to them.

Any other assets the deceased may have had will likely have to go through the probate process. This includes movables such as vehicles and trailers, as well as immovable such as homes and rental properties. Assets the deceased had in his/her name will not be available to anyone else until the succession is opened. This includes children. Many people believe that adult children automatically control the succession, but this is not true, especially when there is a valid Louisiana Last Will & Testament in place.

To answer the question as to whether a succession in Louisiana is necessary, it usually is, but you can set an appointment with us to determine what and where you need to file.

How much does it cost to open a Succession in Louisiana?

This is another question our law firm received regularly. It really depends. Each parish is different, but usually ranges anywhere from $300 to $700 just to file the paperwork. I have seen differences of $150 or more just based on parish filing fee differences.

Attorney fees for preparing Louisiana successions range depending on whether you are dealing with a small succession or a large and complicated succession that is contested. Legal fees for Louisiana successions can range from $1,500 to upwards of $10,000. A typical regular succession that requires filing in the courthouse seems to average roughly $2,500 plus filing fees depending on parish.

Set an appointment with us to determine pricing based on your situation. We do succession work in parishes all around the state and can help you with your situation.

 

Louisiana successions can add more stress to an already difficult situation. You may have just lost a loved one and are scrambling to try and put the pieces together and figure out what to do next. Call the Andries Law Firm and we will gladly walk you through the process and answer your questions. You can schedule an appointment with an experienced Louisiana Succession Attorney by calling (318) 229-1608 or send us an email.

 

Similar Louisiana Succession Articles: Louisiana Usufruct Law, In what parish do I file a Succession?, Does my spouse get the house if I die without a will in Louisiana?, Can you disinherit children in Louisiana?

 

Does my spouse get the house if I die without a will in Louisiana?

If you’ve discovered this article through Google search, chances are you’re deciding whether or not you need to execute a will to protect your spouse in the event you pass before him/her. Louisiana succession law can be complicated. I’ll do my best to answer your questions in this article, but it’s always recommended to contact us if you have further questions or need clarification.

So, let’s begin answering your questions as to “What happens if I die without a will in Louisiana?” First, you must determine how you and your spouse own property. Louisiana is a community property state, meaning that unless you executed a prenuptial agreement before you got married, you are creating community property with each purchase. That means that even though one party may be paying more or all of the bills, it is still the property of both husband and wife.

Clients call me all the time to ask whether or not their spouse will inherit the home if they die without a will. It depends on a number of factors that I can explain. If you purchased the home before you were married, it is considered your separate property. Louisiana laws have determined that separate property goes to the children in full ownership if you die without a will.

For example, Bill purchased a home before he married Sue. He had children that weren’t Sue’s. He did not execute a valid Louisiana will and he died intestate, or without a will. His children inherit the home in full ownership because it was his separate property. Obviously, there are a few caveats, but that’s for another article.

For out next example, let’s assume Bill and Sue purchased the home together after they were married. Bill still didn’t write a will and he died and he had children that were not Sue’s. Step Children is where we see the most issues in Louisiana successions. The home is classified as the couple’s community property, however, the children still inherit Bill’s ½ of the community property even though Sue is still alive and living in the home.

Wait, what?! My step-children can own ½ of my home even though I purchased it with my husband?

Yes and I’ll explain why. The home in this example was purchased together after Bill and Sue were married. It was their community property and Bill did not have a will. That means that his ½ of the home will be inherited by his children because he did not state that he wanted a different outcome. If you don’t have a will, the State of Louisiana will fill in the blanks.

Can my step-children kick me out of the home?

Not exactly. You still own your ½ of the community property and the law gives you usufruct over his ½. That allows you to stay in the home and “use” his half. They could force you out if the home were his separate property, but since they purchased it during the marriage, it’s considered community property in Louisiana.

What is a usufruct?

Usufruct means “use.” It essentially gives you the use of the other half of the property while his children are what’s known as naked owners. They own his half, but you are allowed to possess it and use it as you see fit.

How long does usufruct last in Louisiana?

Here’s the tricky part: the way the law is written gives you either until you remarry or die. Basically, your “use” of his ½ of the marital home will expire if you remarry and his children will be able to force you to either purchase it or move out.

I don’t like that outcome, what can be done?

In this example, nothing can be done because Bill had already died. If you want your spouse to be able to use your ½ of the community property for life, you can state in your Last Will and Testament that you desire your spouse to have a lifetime usufruct. That is if you still want your children to inherit your portion once your spouse dies.

What if I want my spouse to inherit my property in full ownership?

You can do exactly that! You would need to state your wishes in a Will or else the State of Louisiana will make the decision for you and your surviving spouse may have to make some uncomfortable decisions.

How do I choose whether to give my spouse usufruct over my portion or full ownership?

That depends on if you want your half of the home to revert back to your estate when your surviving spouse dies. Let’s do one more example to help you make this decision. It involves step-children on both sides.

Example: Bill and Sue married and each had children from previous marriages. Bill dies first and dies intestate (no will). Sue is granted lifetime usufruct over his ½ of the home and lives there until she dies. Her ½ goes to her children and Bill’s ½ reverts back to his children.

A lot of people like to plan their estates this way to bring property back to their estate once their surviving spouse no longer has a use for it. Had Bill given her the property in full ownership through a valid Louisiana Will, her children would have inherited the home in full ownership and Bill’s children would not have gotten his ½ years down the road.

Many of our clients use the lifetime usufruct to ensure their children get the benefits of their property once their surviving spouse dies to the exclusion of their step-children.

 

Louisiana succession law and estate planning can be complicated. It’s important to speak with a licensed Louisiana attorney that understands the intricacies of intestacy law and will sit with you and explain your options. The Andries Law Firm can do exactly that! Call to set up an appointment.

 

Similar Louisiana Succession Articles: Louisiana Intestate Law Primer, Succession Law, What is a Usufruct?, Forced Heirs: Can I Disinherit my Children? 

Where do I file my Louisiana divorce?

This is a question that understandably comes up a lot with Louisiana divorces. With an ever changing job market, many people scatter when they separate and move to different parishes or even out of the state.

You may be asking yourself, “In what parish do I file my divorce?” Louisiana law can be confusing, but I’ll try to simplify as much as possible so you can have a better understanding.

According to the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure, an action for divorce must be brought in either the parish wherein one of the parties is domiciled or in the parish of the last matrimonial domicile. This is the parish where the couple last lived together as husband and wife.

So, you have a few choices. You need to have an understanding of what domicile means in Louisiana and how it relates to residence. Domicile is the parish where the person has established their principle residence with the intent to remain. A person can have residences all over the state, but you can have only one domicile. Basically, domicile is where you live with the intent to remain.

Now that you have an understanding of what domicile means in relation to divorce, let’s break down each option. “Parish where either parties are domiciled.” This sounds easy enough. You can file your Louisiana divorce in any parish where either party is domiciled. Remember, domicile is different than having a new residence, you have to have intent to remain. For example, Bob established his domicile in Rapides parish after the separation and Sue established her domicile in Avoyelles Parish. The divorce can be filed in either Rapides Parish or Avoyelles Parish.

Further, the divorce can be filed in “Parish of last matrimonial domicile.” This means that the divorce can be filed in the last parish the couple had established as their home together. Going back to our previous example, Bob is domiciled in Avoyelles and Sue in Rapides, but their family home was in Grant Parish: they can file their divorce in Avoyelles, Rapides or Grant Parish.

Sounds confusing? It is and a lot of people make a mistake and file in the wrong parish. That’s why it’s important to speak with an experienced Louisiana divorce attorney to hear your options and make sure you file your divorce correctly.

The Andries Law Firm offers flat rate pricing on uncontested divorces so you can save money and have your divorce filed timely. Give us a call if you have any questions about filing for divorce at (318) 229-1608 or email Jerome@AndriesLawFirm.com.

 

Similar Louisiana Divorce Articles: Louisiana Divorce Guide, Uncontested Divorces, Can I file for Divorce without a Lawyer?, Who Gets Domiciliary Status in Louisiana Custody Cases?, How much does it cost to file for Divorce?

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