What do the terms usufruct and usufructuary mean?

There are many terms that you will hear when you work on your estate plan. Some are easy to understand. There are others you do not hear outside of the world of succession.

Two of those words are usufruct and usufructuary. Understanding those terms can ease the process.

Louisiana’s French ties are key to our unique terminology

Most states in America use the common law system. Louisiana bases its laws on the civil law system, rooted in France’s legal codes.

There are not many differences, but the terms can be confusing.

What are usufruct and usufructuary?

Usufruct allows temporary use of the property. The person named can also make a profit from the property for a specified amount of time. The property cannot be changed, damaged or sold.

When one spouse dies without a will, the person who benefits is the usufructuary. They can live in the property (or lease it) until they remarry or die. At that point, ownership of the property goes to the legal owner.

Complicated succession laws can be even more complex without a will

If you die without a will, usufruct will be an issue. It frequently comes up in a variety of homeownership situations, including:

Minor children. The surviving parent (or guardian) is granted usufruct over the property until the child is old enough.

Surviving parents. If the person who died is living with their parents and has siblings, but no descendants. The parents are granted usufruct, with siblings getting permanent ownership.

Surviving spouses. As the surviving spouse, you are likely to be usufruct. It ends when you either remarry or die.

Understanding these terms can help you avoid problems

You will hear many phrases and terms if you are preparing an estate plan in Louisiana. Understanding them could impact you and your family.