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Community Property and Estate Planning

Baton Rouge Estate Planning Attorney

Community property refers to those assets jointly owned by a married couple per the laws of the state. The very complicated laws surrounding community property must be taken into account in matters of estate planning and probate (known in Louisiana as succession).

Examples of circumstances in which community property laws must be intelligently considered include:

  • Establishing matrimonial agreements (also known as prenuptial agreements)
  • During a divorce when you must defend your right to certain assets
  • Setting up a will/testament so that your estate benefits those you intend
  • If a loved one has died intestate (without a will) yet you have a valid claim to part of the estate
  • If you are executor of a will or otherwise wish to protect an estate from civil claims
  • Structuring your estate to protect it from legally avoidable taxes and so maintain its value

Separate Property vs. Community Property

During the estate planning process, it is imperative to be able to differentiate between community property and separate property. Separate property is simply defined as any assets belonging solely to one of the spouses. If a prenuptial agreement was established before the marriage, this legally-binding document will stipulate which property is separate and which is community. If the spouse has separate money, any items or property purchased with this separate money will also be separate.

An inheritance or gift given solely to one spouse as well as awards from lawsuits can also be separate. Items which are defined as community property include property that was acquired by both spouses, gifts given to both spouses, and all other assets which are not classified as separate. It is important to remember that property can be under the name of one spouse but still be community property.

As these cases can prove to be complex, it can be helpful to allow a Baton Rouge estate planning attorney to assist you. Contact me today!

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