If a person dies without a will (known as dying intestate), they cannot determine who inherits their estate. Instead, their assets are distributed according to Louisiana intestate laws.
If you are a resident of Louisiana and you do not have a will, it helps to know how your estate will be distributed upon your passing. Basically, two rules govern how your estate will be distributed if you die without a will in Louisiana.
Community vs. separate properties
Louisiana is one of the few states that recognize the doctrine of the community property system. Thus, if you were married at the time of your passing, the Louisiana probate court will start by separating community property from separate property.
Louisiana intestate laws and separate property
If you die intestate in Louisiana, your separate property will be distributed amongst your relatives. The first recipients of your estate will be your children. And if your children are also deceased, then their children be next in line to inherit your estate.
If you are not survived by any descendants, however, but are survived by parents and siblings, then your separate property will pass down to your parents and siblings.
If you are not survived by a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents or siblings, then your separate property will be distributed amongst surviving relatives depending on the nature of the relationship.
Louisiana intestate laws and community property
Your share of the community property shall be distributed to your spouse and descendants based on your family situation at the time of your passing. In this case, two scenarios might happen:
If you are survived by a spouse and children, then your surviving spouse will receive certain rights (known as usufruct) over your share of the community property. This ends when the surviving spouse either remarries or dies, upon which the assets are passed down to your children.
However, if you are survived by a spouse but no children, then your share of community property will pass down to them.
Dying intestate can complicate things for your loved ones. Fortunately, you can avoid this by creating a valid estate plan.