Although we don’t practice family law we do have knowledge of what the Louisiana community property rules are and how they affect your estate planning and the distribution of an estate. Many people do not realize that community property rules apply to every asset or debt of a married couple. This means that your spouse incurs a debt, you are responsible. It also means that if you acquire something even if you put it only in your name it is still community property. Many couples, especially in second marriages, operate as if they are under a separate property regime with each spouse having his or her own checking account and finances being combined only for regular household expenses. Louisiana community property law applies to every married couple in this state regardless of how they personally handle their assets. If you set up a bank account in your own name it is still community property. If you die, your spouse owns ½ and your estate owns ½. If your spouse dies and you have an account only in your name, his estate owns ½ of your account.
If you do not want a community property regime you must do a “separation of property” through a family lawyer. We can refer you to someone to do this for you.
Please be aware that banking law is different from estate law. So if you are the only account holder, even though under estate law the account is community property, as far as the bank is concerned they will not allow others to access your account absent a court order.
There are of course exceptions to these general rules. We are happy to discuss with you the best way to structure your assets and debts and how to deal with them in your estate plan.