Succession and the Transmission of Property in Louisiana

In Louisiana, Succession is the transmission of the estate of a deceased person to his successors. La. C.C. art. 871. The successors thus have the right to take possession of the estate of the deceased after complying with applicable provisions of law. Succession occurs at the death of a person. La. C.C. art. 934. There are two kinds of successions: Testate and Intestate. When this transmission is done by operation of law, it is called intestate succession. When it is done through the provisions of a will (also called a testament), it is called testate succession. La. C.C. arts. 873-875. The estate of a deceased person means the property, rights and obligations that a person leaves after his death, whether the property exceeds the charges or the charges exceed the property, or whether he has only left charges without any property. The estate includes not only the rights and obligations of the deceased as they exist at the time of death, but all that has accrued thereto since death and the new charges to which it becomes subject. The estate in Louisiana, however, has no separate legal existence like a corporation or partnership does. In re Succession of Moore, No. 97-1668 (La.App. 4th Cir. 1998), 737 So.2d 749. The successors to a deceased person’s estate are called heirs when there is intestate succession and legatees when there is testate succession. La. C.C. art. 876. The right to take possession of property, whether the person receiving the property is an heir or a legatee, does not arise automatically. In Louisiana, the heirs or legatees must comply with certain provisions of the law. Usufruct is the right to use property during the existence of the usufruct period to the exclusion of the owners of the property. La C.C. arts. 535, 539. In Louisiana, it is actually a limitation on the right of ownership, where the right to use the property is granted to a person different than the owner. The owner of property subject to a usufruct is called the naked owner. Forced heirs are descendants of the first degree who, at the time of the death of the decedent, are twenty-three years of age or younger or descendants of the first degree of any age, who, because of mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their person or administering their estates at the time of the death of the decedent. A person is twenty-three years of age or younger until he/she attains the age of twenty-four years. The existence of forced heirs is irrelevant if there is no testament left by the decedent.