COMMUNITY PROPERTY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

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Louisiana is one of the few community property states in the U.S.  You might be asking yourself, what does that mean to me?  Briefly, it means that by default, anything acquired during the marriage is presumed to be owned 50/50 between a married couple.  This includes any assets acquired and debts incurred during the marriage.  It does not matter who earned the money, purchased the assets, or incurred the debts.  This default presumption also applies to real estate.  It is a simple concept, but as with every rule there are always exceptions.

In Louisiana, assets and debts are classified as either Community or Separate.  Community property is defined as property that is acquired during the marriage and each spouse owns a 50/50 interest.  Separate property is described as property that one spouse owns an entire 100% interest in the property.  Separate property generally includes donated property, inherited property, or assets/debts incurred before the marriage.

However, a married person can purchase real estate in Louisiana as their separate property if certain requirements are met.  The most efficient way for a spouse to purchase real estate as their separate property is to have the other spouse “intervene” in the acquisition.  An intervening spouse appears in the acquisition to confirm their marital status and to attest that the real estate is being purchased as the other spouse’s separate property with the other spouse’s separate and paraphernal funds.

It is always important to contact your closing attorney to further discuss these community property rules when purchasing real estate in Louisiana.  This knowledge could help keep you from buying real estate under the presumption that the property is owned 100 percent by yourself, when in fact you may have just added to your spouse’s property.

If you have questions about community property, contact one of our real estate, successions, or family law attorneys:

J.P. Christiansen

Steve North

Margaret Pruitt

Morgan Livingston