Inheritance Laws in Louisiana

By Matthew Derrringer

If you die without a will in Louisiana, you have no control over the distribution of the estate you leave behind. It’s called dying “intestate.” When this happens, state laws dictate the distribution of your estate. In Louisiana, however, the inheritance laws are unusually unique.

A Valid Will

A valid will is the only way around the intestacy laws of Louisiana. While common requirements for executing a valid will, such as signing the document, as well as having competent witnesses do the same, are included in Louisiana law, there are a couple of differences. The person making the will, known as the “testator,” must not only sign at the end of the will, but also on every separate page of the will. Further, a properly worded “attestation clause” must be included, which declares that the will is indeed the full and true intent of the testator. Failure to incorporate any of these unique requirements in Louisiana will lead to a will being declared invalid.

Community Property

Of particular importance to the inheritance laws of Louisiana is the concept of community property. While a spouse can have separate property, such as an inheritance he himself received or property owned prior to a marriage, community property includes most of the property acquired by a couple during marriage. Community property is jointly owned by the spouses, and when one of them dies intestate, half of the community property is considered part of the deceased spouse’s estate. However, Louisiana law also incorporates a term known as “usufruct.” This means that the surviving spouse, although no longer the owner of that half of the community property, will retain the right to use and benefit from that community property until their death or remarriage. At that time the property will transfer to the original owner’s descendants – their children.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Descendants, Disinheritance and Just Cause

Under Louisiana law, descendants – not the spouse – are the primary beneficiaries of a decedent’s estate. If someone is making a will in Louisiana with a mind to disinherit one of their children, there are certain restrictions. First, a child who is physically or mentally disabled may not be disinherited. Second, any child under age 24 cannot be disinherited without “just cause.” An attempt to do so will make that child a “forced heir,” which is a descendent who must receive a portion of the deceased’s estate, by law at least 25 percent. Louisiana law outlines several instances of just cause, including a child who has struck a parent or attempted to kill the parent, for example.

Intestate Portions

The children of a person who died intestate and left a surviving spouse would receive equal shares of the estate, subject to the surviving spouse’s usufruct rights. The descendants of a decedent without a surviving spouse would take shares of the estate outright. If a decedent had no children, then his surviving spouse would inherit his half of the community property, while his siblings would inherit his separate property in equal shares.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Laws Governing Estate Inheritance for Children in Louisiana



Related articles

The California Law When the Deceased Has No Will

If a person dies intestate, or without a will, in California, his estate is subject to California's intestacy laws. Unlike a will, which allows a person to name all those he wants to inherit from his estate, intestacy laws automatically consider his living family such as his spouse, children, parents and siblings.

Laws on Inheritances

Every state has its own set of unique laws that govern inheritance. These laws, known as "laws of intestate succession," provide guidelines as to the priority of heirs. In other words, these laws explain who is entitled to an inheritance -- and how much they're entitled to receive -- when a relative dies without a will or dies with an invalid will.

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.

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

Related articles

Tennessee Estate Laws

Tennessee's estate laws govern how a person's property, collectively known as the estate, is to be divided upon his ...

New York's Children Inheritance Laws

In New York, a parent may make a will devising property to children. New York also allows parents to disinherit a child ...

What Happens to an Estate if My Dad Died in Louisiana?

Probate is the means by which a court transfers legal ownership of property from a deceased person to his heirs, ...

Virginia Inheritance Law for Siblings

If your brother or sister dies owning property in Virginia, your sibling’s will and Virginia law determine whether you ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED