Sue came in my office a few years ago. She was a young widow with two minor children. Sue’s husband, Bobby, died unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five without a Last Will & Testament. Sue had attempted to refinance her house, but was unable to do so because she only owned 50% of the house. The same 50% percent she owned the day before her husband died. Sue was shocked to find out that she was not an heir of her husband and she did not inherit the house from Bobby.
I had to explain to Sue that she did not inherit her husband’s 50% interest in the house upon his death, but instead his interest went to their children subject to a usufruct in her favor, which terminated upon her remarriage. We had to go to Court to open Bobby’s Succession. As Bobby and Sue’s children were minors, we had to open a Tutorship proceeding to seek court authority to refinance the house. Without a Last Will & Testament and estate planning, the procedures to open the succession and tutorship were much more complicated and time consuming.
Had Bobby drafted a Last Will & Testament with a small amount of planning, he could have protected his wife and given full control of the house, if not ownership. Bobby’s failure to plan ended up costing his family money and Bobby had no say in the administration of his estate.