If my parents own a home in the state of Louisiana and one dies before the other, how does the living spouse protect themselves?

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How does the living spouse protect herself and maintain living in the house and not be forced into selling it....does the living spouse have the right to remain and live in the house and until they pass away? Can the dead spouse's children force her to sell it?

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The house was acquired during their marraige.   She was married once before and has two children...he was married several times...first marriage 5 children, second marriage 1 child. I think the law on forced heirship in Louisiana recently change that you are not required to leave every child an equal share..but that will need to be check into to confirm.

I do not know if their will covers this house as it was drawn up 20+years ago.  The house they lived at that time no longer exists..was destroyed in a hurricane.

Their current home was purchased four years ago as is a joint ownership property...and I do not know if in the deed their is a provision for usafruct.       I do not believe the existing will from 20+ years ago would include this home. ..and  they have not written a new will to include their current property or usafruct of the property.

They have private health insurance as part of my mother's benefits through her retiree program. Her husband is on her plan for health insurance. No they are not on medicaid and probably would have to self pay for at least 4-5 five years because of their assets as per medicaid guidelines within the 5  year look back period.

In the State of Louisiana where everything is 50/50 community property... except monies or properties purchased prior to their marriage.   If a Separate Fruits document (for monies and property) was prepared and filed with the state of Louisiana than the monies and properties are considered separate fruits and are not part of the community property.

Thanks for all your help and other advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Cathy, was the house acquired before or during their marriage? Louisiana is a community property state. Anything acquired after marriage is considered joint property. Lots of complexities here so I agree you need to identify the names on the dded. date of purchase for the home vs. date of marriage. Contact an attorney in LA
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Cathy - Louisiana law is French based and can be very different when dealing with heirship & marital issues. Rest of US is English based law. Like just until recently, you could NOT leave out any of your kids as heirs ever; EVEN if illegitimate. Whatever you do, your attys must be registered with LA bar & understand LA law.

Is this first marriage kids vs second marriage kids? & your 2nd marriage kid?
For second or third marriages with contentious attitude towards later spouse by first marriage kids (or first spouse), often atty will suggest property to be placed in will as a "usafruct" if the spouse wants to protect 2nd or 3rd spouse interest in house (after he dies) but be able to say to 1st kids while he's alive that they inherit it.

Is medicaid involved in paying for their care?
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Also, check the deed to the house in order to see if their is joint ownership. If you don't know where it is, there should be a copy of it with the county they live in register of deeds which may be searchable online and many are. 
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Thank you...I am not sure what the will states are if it actually reflects their current home..so I will need to check into that..thanks for all the advise.
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In addition to terms of the Will, the deed by which he took title would reflect that he holds title jointly, with survivorship rights to his wife (if that's the case.) If so, title would automatically transfer to his wife when he dies. I believe a death certificate would have to be filed with the property department (called register of deeds in my area).

If, however, joint tenancy is reflected in the deed, but the will provides that others in addition to the wife inherit title to the property, you might need an attorney to sort this out.
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Cathy, do you know how the Will is written? Does the house automatically pass to the living spouse, or are both names on the Deed or just one name? It could be a case where the Deed is written that say the husband dies, then his children inherit his half of the house. Hopefully the Deed is written that the wife automatically owns 100% of the house.

Now, if the house has a Reverse Mortgage, you would need to check how the loan is written and when it was written. Some of the older loans say the surviving spouse has to pay back the loan or sell the house.
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You need to get a lawyer that can answer the many questions you have. It sounds like you need Medicaid, elder care, marital and probate advice outside scope you'll get here.
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