Separate Property That Was Donated to a Decedent With No Will in Louisiana

By Jeff Franco J.D./M.A./M.B.A.

When a Louisiana resident owns property at the time of death but doesn’t leave a will, he is said to have died "intestate." As a result, the Louisiana intestacy laws determine which heirs will receive the property, including separate property that was donated to the decedent.

When a Louisiana resident owns property at the time of death but doesn’t leave a will, he is said to have died "intestate." As a result, the Louisiana intestacy laws determine which heirs will receive the property, including separate property that was donated to the decedent.

Donated Financial Accounts

Before a decedent’s property can be distributed, one of the state’s district courts must determine which property is part of the decedent’s estate -- which is entirely subject to the intestacy laws – and which property isn’t. If the decedent received a donation of property as a gift, it is part of the estate unless it’s the type of property, such as financial accounts, that names a beneficiary who is to receive the property at the owner’s death. This commonly includes pensions, annuities, IRAs and other types of retirement plans. For example, if the decedent receives income from a friend’s pension, but the terms require the balance of the pension to be paid to someone else at the death of the decedent, the pension isn’t part of the decedent’s estate – meaning the donated property isn’t owned by the decedent.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Donations While Married

Louisiana is a community property state, which means each spouse owns half of all property either spouse acquires during the marriage. Furthermore, an individual’s estate includes only his share of community property. One exception to this rule applies to property donations or gifts that are made to one spouse individually. In this case, the donation is treated as the decedent’s separate property. As a result, the entire donation – not just 50 percent – is included in the decedent’s estate and distributed pursuant to Louisiana’s intestate succession law.

Louisiana Intestate Succession

The intestacy laws of Louisiana are significantly different from the laws in other states in that a surviving spouse receives nothing from the estate if the descendent has children or grandchildren. The surviving children receive the entire estate in equal shares, which includes all property donated to the decedent that isn’t a beneficiary account and qualifies as separate rather than community property. However, the law allows the surviving spouse a right to use and enjoy the decedent’s half of community property until her own death.

How This Works

To understand how this all works, assume a decedent is survived by his wife who continues to live in the home they purchased together while married. Further assume that a friend of the decedent gifted him a valuable classic Corvette, which the decedent owns at the time of his death. If you’re the only child of the decedent, Louisiana intestacy law treats the Corvette as separate property you will inherit if your father dies without a will. The house, however, is community property, so you will only inherit half of it and his wife retains ownership of the other half. But since she has the right to live in the home until her own death, you can’t force her out of the home and sell it.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
The California Law When the Deceased Has No Will

References

Related articles

How to List Cash in a Last Will & Testament

A last will and testament contains your final wishes for how and to whom you want your property distributed upon your death. A will can list personal property such as a gold watch, real property such as your home, or a sum of cash. There are different ways to list cash in a will, and how it is listed can affect how much a beneficiary actually receives, or if he receives anything at all.

California Community Property Laws Regarding Children From a Former Marriage

In community property states such as California, two people do become one when they marry. Under community property law, both spouses equally own everything they earn or acquire while they're married. Anything owned before the marriage or acquired after spouses legally separate, as well as assets received by inheritance or gift, is separate property, exempt from community property law. This is a big factor in dividing marital property in a divorce, but it affects estate planning as well, especially when you have children from a former marriage.

The Widow's Legal Rights in South Carolina

South Carolina law provides a surviving spouse with the right to inherit from her deceased spouse's estate. An estate includes all property the decedent acquired during his lifetime. If a decedent had a will, the widow receives any bequest from the will. If there is a will, but the spouse is not included, she will still receive an inheritance in accordance with South Carolina's "elective share" laws. If a decedent dies without a will, the widow will inherit based on South Carolina's laws of intestate succession.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Marital Estate Rights After Death

When a married person dies, the surviving spouse generally has a right to inherit a portion of the deceased ...

Joint Tenancy and Divorce in California

All divorcing couples in California should carefully review titles to their real property to determine if it is ...

Inheritance Laws & Marital Property in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a married person can make a will and leave everything to his spouse, if he chooses. However, if a ...

Is Movable Property Considered Part of an Estate in Louisiana?

Louisiana law is grounded in French legal principles, while the other 49 states base their systems on English ...

Browse by category