The majority of states in the U.S. have strict inheritance laws in situations where no will is available that usually favor a spouse. In some states the laws are so extreme that children, parents, and grandchildren could find themselves at the mercy of a second spouse who suddenly owns everything. In Louisiana the law actually gives preference to everyone but the spouse with the spouse only allowed to keep what they have personally purchased.
Unless a valid will is found and declared legally valid according to Louisiana state law the children inherit all of their parents’ community and separate assets. This can cause extreme hardship on the surviving spouse who now only has rights to their half of any assets that they can prove were purchased during the marriage. This means that a surviving spouse can sometimes find themselves living a home that is co-owned by children. If there are no children living then siblings, parents, and any other blood relative stands to inherit.
This comes as a surprise to many people starting the estate planning process in Louisiana. They are used to hearing about situations where children are desperately fighting step parents or parents for their inheritance. Rarely do people find themselves in situations where they are struggling to keep what they have worked for because the law automatically favors blood relatives over spouses.
Without a legal will a spouse may only inherit separate property if no living relatives can be found or all property was purchased during the time of the marriage. In cases where all property is considered community property by the surviving spouse it can still be difficult to gain legal rights to homes, vehicles, and money that a spouse needs to survive. It can be difficult, and time consuming, to prove that assets were purchased during a marriage.
Having a will created in Louisiana is a very important part of estate planning for anyone that has a spouse they wish to provide for. Planning early will help ensure that your spouse is able to continue living comfortably while coping with their loss. Writing a will in Louisiana is not a difficult process. It requires that all assets are clearly identified and heirs are also clearly identified. The will must be written and signed but no witnesses are required in order for the will to be valid.