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What are Intestate Succession Laws in Louisiana and Why Do They Matter?


No one is ready for when the inevitable happens. When a loved one passes away there are many loose ends left untied. Many times the deceased leaves a will.

But, what happens if your loved one didn’t leave one. Some states like Louisiana have laws that take care of these cases. Did you know that Louisiana intestate succession laws are one of the most misunderstood?

If you’re here it means that you want to get ready for the inevitable or your loved one passed away in this state without leaving a will. Not sure what will happen to their assets?

We have you covered. We’ll tell you all about Louisiana intestate succession laws and what happens to the assets. Read on to learn more!

Louisiana Intestate Succession Laws

Before we go into Louisiana intestate succession, we’ll go over the basics. What is succession? What is intestate succession?

A succession is a process during which a deceased’s estate is settled and distributed among their heirs after all debts are paid. Yet, not all successions are the same. If the deceased doesn’t leave a will, an intestate succession will take place.

What Assets Are Subject to Louisiana Intestate Succession

When it comes to assets, an intestate succession isn’t different to a succession that follows a will. The same assets pass through both types of successions. Most of the time, these include the assets under the deceased’s name.

The assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or the named beneficiary. That’s how the assets will pass without regard to if there’s a will or not.

Not all assets will pass to beneficiaries. Some of these exceptions are life insurance benefits, payable-on-death bank accounts, retirement account funds, among other assets. We recommend you consult a family law attorney to learn more.

Who Gets It All in Intestate Succession?

When you leave a will, the assets will pass to the beneficiaries you named in the will. Intestate succession doesn’t work that way. Because the deceased didn’t name who they want to leave the assets to.

It will depend on who is left behind. Do they’ve surviving children? Are there any surviving parents or close relatives?

The assets will pass depending on who survives you. If you die leaving your children, spouse or siblings, the survivor will receive all the assets. It isn’t as simple when there are several survivors.

If your children and spouse survive you, the latter has the right to usufruct. This means that your spouse will have for life the right to use your share of community property. Your children will inherit your share of community property subject to the usufruct.

Also, they’ll receive all your separate property. If you pass away and leave your parents and spouse, the first will inherit all your separate property. And, your spouse will inherit all your community property.

If you leave behind only your spouse and siblings, the latter will inherit your separate property. While your spouse will receive all your community property.

When your siblings and parents survive you, the first will inherit everything. But, the property will be subject to your parent’s right to use your intestate property for life.

How Does Your Spouse’s Share Pass?

You might’ve thought that intestate succession asset distribution was straightforward. But, it isn’t. Other rules and exceptions may apply depending on the case.

The assets your spouse will receive if you pass away without a will depend on how you both owned your property. Was it as a community or separate property? The rule of thumb is that you acquire community property during your marriage.

Separate property is the one you acquire before getting married. Yet, there are exceptions to the community property rule. All inheritance and gifts are separate property even if the spouse receives it during the marriage.

If you pass away without leaving any descendants, your spouse will receive all your property. But, if there are any descendants, your spouse will share the property with them.

When parents and siblings survive the deceased, the spouse will share the property with them too. Your spouse won’t receive any inheritance if you were legally separated, but not divorced when you pass away.

How Does Your Children’s Share Pass?

All your surviving children will receive an intestate share. This share depends on if you were married and how many children you have. Your children will inherit from you if the state considers them your children.

Adopted and biological children will receive the same share. The law considers all children born during your marriage yours. So they’ll inherit a share of your state as well.

Your grandchildren will inherit a share if their parent passed away. Any children born outside of your marriage will inherit if they prove your paternity in court or you accept it. If you conceive a child and they’re born after you pass, they’ll inherit a share of your state.

Children given into adoption will inherit an intestate share of your property even if they’re adopted. Your foster children and stepchildren won’t receive a share automatically unless you’ve adopted them.

Special Rules in Louisiana Intestate Succession

Louisiana intestate laws aren’t the same as other states. There are special rules in real estate and when there aren’t any descendants. If an ancestor gave you real estate and you pass away without any descendants, the property will return to your ancestor.

When someone dies without a will and descendants, your property will escheat. This means that it will go to the state. This isn’t common.

Louisiana inheritance laws allow you to transfer your property to any distant relative. This means that your property won’t go to the state if any descendant survives you.

How Can You Protect Your Assets?

The best way to protect your assets from Louisiana intestate succession laws is by leaving a will. If you do this, your assets will pass to the beneficiaries you name. Having a will might seem like a hassle but, you guarantee the transfer of your assets.

Did you or someone you know lose their loved one? Need legal advice about Louisiana inheritance laws?

We can help! Contact us today to schedule your first consultation.


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