In the state of Louisiana, you are given the option to include a usufruct in your last will and testament. While many people are confused by the name alone, it is important to understand that the concept is actually quite simple. When a person includes a usufruct in their will, they are giving someone else the opportunity to use their property—be it a house, land or shares of stocks—before it is handed over to the full owner. The duration of the usufruct will be specified in the will, as the property owner can either grant the "usufructary" use of the property until their death or until a specific date has been reached. Once the stipulations of the usufruct have expired, the property would be handed over to the person who has been granted full ownership (i.e. the "naked owner").
This estate planning tool is commonly used by married couples when one spouse wants to ensure that the other is taken care of after their death. If one spouse includes a usufruct in their will regarding the use of their home, for example, the other spouse would have the right to use that property until they too have passed. Upon their death, the property would simply be passed to the naked owner—which, in this case, may be the couple's child. If the property is sold by the usufructary before it is handed over to the naked owner, they would be responsible for passing on the property that was received in the sale. Apart from that, however, the usufructary would be able to enjoy all other benefits and income associated with the property until the term of the usufruct expires.
If you still have questions about the purpose of a usufruct, I encourage you to contact my firm today. As a Baton Rouge estate planning attorney, I can answer any questions that you may have.