Louisiana Forced Heirship Law: Four Key Concepts

Louisiana is the only state that has these unique forced heirship laws. Basically, the law provides that certain children must be left an inheritance. Let's take a look at some of these provisions.

Definition. There are, in general, two definitions of a forced heir. A forced heir is a child who, at the time of your death, is 23 years of age or younger. A forced heir is also defined as a child of any age who, because of mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estates at the time of your death. Note that I'm generalizing here, and there are exceptions and further clarifications in the law. So, make sure you see an estate planning attorney if these circumstances apply to you.

Amount a Forced Heir is entitled to. Again, exceptions apply here. But generally, if you have one forced heir, that forced heir is entitled to 1/4 of your estate. If you leave behind two or more forced heirs, they must, collectively, share half of your estate. Life insurance, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs are not counted for purposes of this calculation.

Burdening the Legitime. You can arrange your estate, if you have one or more forced heirs, so they do not get their forced portion until both you and your spouse die. You can leave an income interest in trust for your spouse, or you can leave your spouse usufruct of the forced portion. Again, exceptions apply so work with an estate planning attorney.

Disinherison. Even if you leave a forced heir, you can disinherit them (leave them nothing) of they fit under one of the eight just causes for disinherison. The one used most often is when a child, after reaching age 18 and knowing how to contact the parent, has failed to communicate with the parent without just cause for a period of two years, unless the child was on active duty in any of the military forces of the United States at the time.

My final warning about forced heirship is that our rules can be tricky. There is much more to it than what was described here. And since it only applies in Louisiana, none of the national articles or publications will help you.

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Rabalais Estate Planning, LLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.