State legal systems in the United States are based on one of two legal systems. Forty-nine states base their laws on the Common Law system, first used in England.
However, one state, Louisiana, uses the French Napoleonic Code as the basis for their legal system. While legal systems based on common law rely on judges’ decisions to set precedents that are used to make subsequent decisions, Louisiana’s system does not.
Napoleon’s Code was intended to simplify laws at a time when many people were illiterate or did not have access to printed information. Ironically, the effort to create a simpler and easier to understand legal system has resulted in one of the most complex and least understood sets of state laws here in Louisiana.
There are many other differences between the two systems, but it is not as important to know every single difference as it is to understand that there are important differences between state laws in Louisiana and those of most other states.
Basics of real estate law
Real estate laws are the laws that deal with land and anything built on that land, including the ownership, use, and transfer of ownership of that land. As discussed above, Louisiana’s unique legal heritage has influenced current laws in many ways. One such way is the term used to refer to real estate in this state. While the rest of the United States uses “real estate” in legal documents, in Louisiana real estate is referred to as “real property.”
Inheritance and “Forced Heirs”
Another area that requires special attention is that of heritage within Louisiana. Inheritance laws stemming from the Napoleonic Code were intended to ensure that assets remained in their family of origin, so while the other 49 states allow property to be transferred as the owner prefers after their death, this is not always the case in Louisiana.
Laws regarding the inheritance of real estate may dictate that close relatives, including parents or children, inherit the property before anyone else.
Community property or separate property?
Louisiana real estate laws divide property ownership into two categories:
- Community property.
- Separate property.
While the difference between the two differences may initially seem obvious, upon closer inspection the line becomes less clear.
For example، once a couple is married، all property does not automatically become community property، and in the event of a divorce، one spouse may have no claim or right to certain property.
Some of the factors considered in this situation are when the property was purchased and whose funds were used, which can be a difficult fact to ascertain.