If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Louisiana, you are said to have died "intestate." In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Louisiana has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Louisiana Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.
In the absence of valid testamentary disposition, the undisposed property of the deceased devolves by operation of law in favor of his descendants, ascendants, and collaterals, by blood or by adoption, and in favor of his spouse not judicially separated from him, in the order provided in and according to the following articles.
Representation is a fiction of the law, the effect of which is to put the representative in the place, degree, and rights of the person represented.
Representation in direct line of descendants
Representation takes place ad infinitum in the direct line of descendants. It is permitted in all cases, whether the children of the deceased concur with the descendants of the predeceased child, or whether, all the children having died before him, the descendants of the children be in equal or unequal degrees of relationship to the deceased. For purposes of forced heirship, representation takes place only as provided in Article 1493.
Representation of ascendants not permissible
Representation does not take place in favor of the ascendants, the nearest relation in any degree always excluding those of a more remote degree.
Representation in collateral line
In the collateral line, representation is permitted in favor of the children and descendants of the brothers and sisters of the deceased, whether they succeed in concurrence with their uncles and aunts, or whether, the brothers and sisters of the deceased having died, their descendants succeed in equal or unequal degrees.
Basis of partition in cases of representation
In all cases in which representation is permitted, the partition is made by roots; if one root has produced several branches, the subdivision is also made by roots in each branch, and the members of the same branch take by heads.
Representation of deceased persons only
Only deceased persons may be represented
Representation of decedent whose succession was renounced
One who has renounced his right to succeed to another may still enjoy the right of representation with respect to that other.
Succession rights of descendants
Descendants succeed to the property of their ascendants. They take in equal portions and by heads if they are in the same degree. They take by roots if all or some of them succeed by representation.
Devolution of community property
If the deceased leaves no descendants, his surviving spouse succeeds to his share of the community property.
Usufruct of surviving spouse
If the deceased spouse is survived by descendants, the surviving spouse shall have a usufruct over the decedent's share of the community property to the extent that the decedent has not disposed of it by testament. This usufruct terminates when the surviving spouse dies or remarries, whichever occurs first.
Devolution of separate property; parents and brothers and sisters
If the deceased leaves no descendants but is survived by a father, mother, or both, and by a brother or sister, or both, or descendants from them, the brothers and sisters or their descendants succeed to the separate property of the deceased subject to a usufruct in favor of the surviving parent or parents. If both parents survive the deceased, the usufruct shall be joint and successive.
Devolution of separate property in absence of parents or in absence of brothers and sisters
If the deceased leaves neither descendants nor parents, his brothers or sisters or descendants from them succeed to his separate property in full ownership to the exclusion of other ascendants and other collaterals.
If the deceased leaves neither descendants nor brothers or sisters, nor descendants from them, his parent or parents succeed to the separate property to the exclusion of other ascendants and other collaterals.
Other intestacy statutes
There are additional statutes pertaining to the distribution of intestate property in the State of Louisiana. To view those statutes, please click here.
[Reference - Louisiana's Intestacy laws]