If you are an executor and have foreign property to deal with you may have come across this term. Usufruct is a legal right to property found in civil law jurisdictions such as France and Spain. Its Roman roots can be seen in the fact that it combines the two interests of usus and fructus. Usus is the right to use property directly and without altering it and fructus is the right to derive profit from that property, for instance by renting or selling crops. Usufruct is not equivalent to absolute ownership and often will last only during a person’s life and, in that sense, is similar to a common-law life interest.
In many cases a deceased’s spouse will only have a right to property in usufruct, the idea being that the property in question will be preserved ultimately for the deceased’s descendants.