An intestate succession is the procedure followed when there is not a will. When one passes away without a will, the rules of intestate successions will determine what happens to his or her estate.
Determining the Nature of the Property
The first step is to determine what things of the decedant were “community property” with a surviving spouse and what was separate property. Broadly speaking, community property is anything that was acquired during the marriage and separate property is what was acquired before the marriage. Separate property also includes inheritances and gifts specifically to that person.
In an intestate succession, the community property is divided in half. One half belongs to the surviving spouse as that spouse’s share of the community. The other half is the deceased’s share of the community. That share is inherited by the descendants of the couple. If there are no descendants, then the surviving spouse gets that share.
If the descendants inherit the half of the community property, it is, as mentioned above, subject to the usufruct of the surviving spouse. This usufruct terminates when the surviving spouse dies or remarries. The usufruct then rejoins with the naked ownership making the descendants the full owners of the property.
In an intestate succession, the separate property of the deceased goes entirely to the descendants. If the deceased did not have children, then it would go to siblings or their descendants, with a usufruct in favor of a parent or parents if they are surviving. If there are no siblings, but there is a parent or both parents surviving, then the parents inherit in full.
If there are no descendants, no siblings, no descendants of siblings, and no parents, but there is a spouse, then the spouse gets the separate property. If there is no spouse, then we start searching the family tree up the line of ascendants, and out to other “collaterals,” which would mean cousins, aunts and uncles, and so on. If nobody else can be found, the State of Louisiana receives the estate.
Intestate Succession Illustrated with Characters from “All in the Family”
- Learn more about the Basics of Probate in Louisiana
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