As you mourn your parent's death, it can be overwhelming to think about what will happen to your parent's property. Understandably, you want to settle your parent's financial affairs quickly and with as little disruption to the family as possible. If your parent died with a valid will, the terms of the will should be honored. However, if your parent died without a will and you have siblings, you need to know how the Louisiana laws of intestacy apply to all of you.
LA Law of Intestate Succession for Children
Louisiana law explains what happens if a parent dies without a will. Generally:
- If someone dies with children but no spouse, the children inherit everything.
- If someone dies with children and a spouse, the spouse maintains a usufruct right in community property and the children inherit all of the separate property and the community property subject to the spouse's lifetime use of it.
The "child's share" of the property will be divided among all children who are legally eligible to receive property.
Who Is Considered a Child?
Before you can apply intestate rules, you need to know how they apply to different types of children. In most cases, foster children and stepchildren who were not legally adopted by the parent who died are not considered children for intestate succession purposes.
However, children are not limited to biological children born during a marriage. Instead, Louisiana law recognizes the following children, all of whom may inherit property in an intestate succession, with some exceptions:
- All children born during a marriage. Any child born during a marriage is legally presumed to be the child of both spouses. The presumption of paternity may only be overcome if the husband disavowed paternity with clear and convincing evidence within one year of the child's birth or within one year of the day the husband knew or should have known that the child was not his biological child. As your father's child and heir, you may begin a case to disavow paternity if your father dies before the time for disavowing paternity runs out and in certain other situations after your father's death.
- Biological children born outside of marriage. Biological children born outside of wedlock are considered legal heirs of your father if your father acknowledged paternity or paternity is proven in court.
- Adopted children. Any child legally adopted by the deceased parent has the same legal right of inheritance as a biological child.
- Children placed for adoption. Any child who was placed for adoption by your parent and who was adopted by someone else still has a legal right to an intestate share of the biological parent's property.
- Children conceived, but not born, before a parent's death. Any child conceived by your parent before your parent's death, but born after your parent's death, has a legal right to an intestate share of the parent's property.
- Grandchildren. If a child predeceases a parent, but the child has their own living children at the time of the parent/grandparent's death, the grandchildren can receive the intestate share of the child who predeceased the parent. In other words, if your parent had two children and only one is living at the time of the parent's death, the living child receives half of the children's intestate share, and the children of the deceased child receive the other half of the children's intestate share.
Don't Wait to Contact a Louisiana Succession Lawyer
Remember, it's not just children who may inherit property through an intestate succession. Other relatives may also have the right to inherit property.
If your parent died, you can make sure all Louisiana laws are followed and save yourself additional frustration, costs, and emotional suffering by contacting a Louisiana succession lawyer as soon as possible. Call us, or fill out our contact form today to learn more.