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Successions With Absent Heirs or Legatees: Successions are either intestate or testate.  In an intestate succession, the heirs of the decedent inherit his or her estate.  In a testate succession, the decedent leaves his or her property to one or more legatees.  It is not uncommon for a client to come to our office to open the succession of a loved one, and during the process of determining who all the heirs or legatees are it becomes apparent that the whereabouts of one or more heirs or legatees are unknown.  If attempts at locating them fail, they become known as absent

Louisiana Law of Usufruct: Full ownership in Louisiana is broken down into three elements: (1) usus which is the right to use or possess a thing; (2) fructus which is the right to the fruits or income of a thing; and (3) abusus which is the right to abuse or dispose of a thing (either physically or juridically). Per La. Civ. Code art. 535, a usufruct is a real right of limited duration on the property of another.  It combines the first two elements of ownership, usus and fructus.  The person who truly owns the property is known as the naked

Successions When a Legatee or Heir Dies: Successions are either intestate or testate.  Intestate successions occur when there is no will, the will is invalid, or the will does not dispose of all the decedent’s property.  Testate successions occur when there is a valid notarial or olographic will.  An heir is a person who inherits property in an intestate succession.  A legatee is a person who is bequeathed property in a testate succession. In Louisiana there are three ways to inherit: (1) in his or her own right, (2) via representation, or (3) via transmission.  An heir inherits in his or her

Inheriting Mortgaged Property: In most instances, the estate debts must be fully paid during the succession proceedings.  However, some debts such as mortgages are not easily paid in full.  Clients often ask if they have to refinance when they inherit property with a mortgage.  Heirs generally have a few options when inheriting mortgaged property.  The property can be sold and the sale proceeds can pay off the mortgage.  Other assets in the succession can be used to pay off the mortgage.  The succession can be renounced, in which case the property will likely be foreclosed on if there are no

Forced Heirship and Collation: Forced heirship is unique to Louisiana and can dramatically impact your estate plan.  Likewise, collation can have a profound impact on the forced portion and on your succession proceedings.  Forced heirship is designed to prevent a person from disinheriting certain children or grandchildren.  It was born under the presumption that parents desire to treat their children equally. What is Forced Heirship? Per La. Civ. Code art. 1494, a forced heir must receive a portion of their parent’s estate.  This is so regardless of a will or trust to the contrary.  For example, if a will leaves