Here in Louisiana, we have a fairly unique property system for spousal unions. Louisiana is what's known as a community property state. Community property means that you and your spouse each have a 1/2 ownership interest in most of the property acquired during your marriage.
When one spouse dies leaving children and no will, the children get naked ownership of the deceased spouse's 1/2 share of community property, but the other spouse inherits the right to use the property left to to the children. This use right is called a spousal usufruct, and this right lasts until death or remarriage under Louisiana Estate Law.
However not all property owned by married persons in Louisiana is considered community property. Property that a spouse inherits during or before the marriage, property owned by one spouse prior to marriage and any property acquired with funds that were not earned or received during the marriage are considered separate property. In a Louisiana Succession, the court will determine which of a deceased souses assets are considered community property and which assets are separate property.
With separate property, your children will inherit that property in full as long as they are 18 years of age or older. Your surviving spouse has no right to use your separate property under Louisiana Law.
A well drafted estate plan can provide your spouse with more rights than the law allows. For this reason it is a good idea to seek out the help of a professional to protect you spouse where Louisiana law fails to do so. To discuss your estate planning options in New New Orleans, Metairie, Kenner, the Westbank, Slidell, Madeville, Covington, and other areas of Southeast Lousiana; call me at (504) 274-1980 or email email@example.com.
Chris Kane, Attorney
Director, New Orleans Office