It may not be until your spouse, parent, or child dies that you hear the word usufruct. Whether you are the one with usufruct rights are someone else is the usufruct, you need to know what it means. Understanding usufructs

Usufruct Use of Property

Generally, a person with a usufruct interest in a piece of property has the use of that property for a specific amount of time. It is similar to the term life estate in other jurisdictions. However, a usufruct does not always last for a lifetime. While the person who has legal use of the property is known as the usufruct, the person who owns the property is known as the naked owner.

How Usufructs Are Created

Usufructs can be created during estate planning or occur when someone dies without a will.

Usufructs by Estate Planning

A person can leave another person a usufruct interest in property in a will. Usufructs may be useful, for example, in the situation of second marriages when the spouses have children from previous relationships. A will may allow the second spouse to use the couple’s community property for the rest of the second spouse’s lifetime, but when the second spouse dies, the property goes to the children of the first spouse. In this situation, the second spouse is the usufruct, and the children of the first spouse are the naked owners.

Intestate Usufructs

Usufructs are also part of Louisiana’s intestate law. If someone dies without a will, a usufruct may result for:

  • The surviving spouse. If a married person with children dies without a will, the surviving spouse has a usufruct over the decedent’s community property until the surviving spouse dies or remarries.
  • Surviving parents. If someone dies without children or grandchildren but with parents and siblings, the person’s separate property is inherited by the siblings, but the parents have a usufruct interest in the property.
  • Parents of a minor child who inherits property. When a child under the age of 18 inherits property, the child’s parents have a usufruct interest in the property.

If you’re wondering what to do as a usufruct or naked owner, learn about your rights today by contacting our experienced Louisiana succession lawyers for more information.