Louisiana Forced Heirship Law: Things to Know

Oct 4, 2021 by Ciolino & Onstott

Louisiana Forced Heirship Law: Things to Know
forced heirship law
Louisiana is the only state in the US with forced heirship. The Louisiana forced heirship law takes many families by surprise, even if they have a Last Will and Testament. To help our readers learn more about the forced heirship doctrine, this blog post discusses a few things you need to know:
  • Who is a forced heir in Louisiana?
  • What are the forced heirship rules in Louisiana?
  • Can you disinherit a child in Louisiana by leaving them one dollar?
  • Does a will override forced heirship in Louisiana
We will end the blog with a few tips to help you plan for forced heirship. 

If you have questions or if you're ready to begin planning for forced heirship after reading this blog post, schedule your free consultation with Ciolino & Onstott

This blog post is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice. Ciolino & Onstott provides free initial consultations. To schedule yours to learn more about forced heirship or estate planning, click here now

Who Is a Forced Heir in Louisiana?

A forced heir in Louisiana is defined as a child who is under the age of 24 or any child with physical or mental disabilities who lacks the ability to care for themselves. In certain circumstances, a grandchild may be considered a forced heir. This occurs if the parent of the child died prior to the grandparent. 

Forced Heirship Rules in Louisiana

If forced heirship rules apply in a succession, then the amount that a forced heir receives from the estate depends on the number of forced heirs. Specifically: 
  • If there is one forced heir, that heir receives 25% of the estate. 
  • If there are two forced heirs, 50% of the estate is split between the forced heirs. 
  • If there are more than two forced heirs, 50% of the estate would be split among the heirs. 
There are certain circumstances under forced heirship rules wherein the parent may legally disinherit their child, who would otherwise be a forced heir:
  • Their child has hit them or raised a hand to hit them. A verbal threat is insufficient. 
  • Their child treated them with cruelty. 
  • Their child committed a crime against them. 
  • Their child caused a grievous injury to them. 
  • Their child attempted to murder them. 
  • Their child, without a reasonable basis, accused them of committing a crime for which the punishment is life in prison or the death penalty.
  • Their child used violence or coercion to stop them from creating a Louisiana Last Will and testament.
  • Their child is a minor who married without their intent. 
  • Their child is a minor convicted of a crime with a punishment of life in prison or with the death penalty.
  • Their child turned 18 and while knowing how to maintain contact and communication with their parent for the last two years, they failed to do so and the child was not on active duty with the US military. 
In all of these cases, the parent must write a will that specifically disinherits the forced heir, naming the cause for disinherison. 

Can You Disinherit a Child in Louisiana by Leaving Them One Dollar?

A forced heir can be disinherited under certain circumstances, as listed above. However, specific language must be included within a Louisiana Last Will and Testament to do so. Attempting to "disinherit" a child by leaving them one dollar will not satisfy the Louisiana requirements for disinheriting a forced heir. Because Louisiana forced heirship law can become complicated, it is best to seek guidance and use proper estate planning for your specific needs. Ciolino & Onstott offers free estate planning consultations

Does a Will Override Forced Heirship in Louisiana? 

No, a Louisiana Last Will and Testament on its own does not override forced heirship. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, we are the only state in the US that relies on forced heirship law. Therefore, merely creating a Last Will and Testament that leaves certain assets or a certain amount of money to specific children and excluding other children does not circumvent Louisiana forced heirship law.  There are specific and exclusive reasons provided by Louisiana forced heir law that gives the ability for a parent to avoid providing for their heir or heirs. We listed those reasons above. However, in those instances, the parent's will can be used to disinherit the child using specific language. 

Parents concerned about forced heirship should create an estate plan. Estate planning can help protect your assets from forced heirs or ensure that forced heirs can better utilize their assets. 

Planning for Forced Heirship

Planning for forced heirship is crucial for two reasons. It helps protect your assets and interests. It also helps protect the forced heirs. Forced heirship often comes as a shock to parents or to a surviving spouse. While the Louisiana forced heirship law exists, there are estate planning options that may be right for you that could lessen its impact. 

Forced heirs can also be protected by good estate planning. For example, forced heirs with physical or mental disabilities who receive SSDI payments are limited in the number of assets they may own. Otherwise, they lose essential services, such as their Medicaid or state insurance. You may need to consider a special needs trust for their portion of the estate.

There are other ways that estate planning can be helpful to forced heirs. However, we couldn't possibly list the numerous scenarios in a single blog post. To learn more about how estate planning could help you protect forced heirs, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. 

Free Consult: Louisiana Forced Heirship

Louisiana forced heirship can cause a lot of confusion for parents. The impact of the forced heirship doctrine on your estate and how you can plan for it isn't something you have to struggle with on your own. Ciolino & Onstott is here to help you learn more about succession and forced heirship. 

Don't wait: schedule your free consultation now to learn more about the Louisiana forced heirship law and how it could affect your estate. 

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