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Can you disinherit immediate family members in Louisiana?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | Estate Planning |

For the average adult with their own family, their spouse and children will inherit most of their property when they die. Although people sometimes have others that they want to include in estate plans, ranging from friends and distant relatives to charitable organizations, their closest family members typically receive the vast majority of their property.

For some people, their closest relationships may have serious issues. Your adult child may have pursued a life of crime, or your spouse may have repeatedly cheated on you. Some people who want to hold others accountable for their misconduct throughout their lives may plan on disinheriting them or excluding them from their estate when they die.

Can you disinherit your spouse or your children in Louisiana?

Your spouse has community property rights

One of the reasons that spouses inherit so much of an individual’s estate is that they share all of their assets and income as community property. Given the community property statutes in Louisiana, it is difficult if not impossible to prevent property from passing to your spouse when you die. Your spouse has a statutory right to inherit from your estate unless you sign a marital agreement with them where they gave up that right.

Your children also have inheritance rights

In most of the country, children only inherit property based on the goodwill of their parents. However, in Louisiana, children have a right to inheritance. Only when you have just cause to disinherit a child and they are over the age of 24 can you potentially disinherit them. The state has a strict legal standard for disinheriting children.

To establish just cause, you need proof that they have:

  • abused or physically harmed you
  • threatened you
  • pled guilty or gotten convicted of a crime carrying a life sentence or the death penalty
  • accused you of a crime resulting in a life sentence or the death penalty
  • tried to kill you
  • broke communication with you for at least two years
  • married without your permission if they are not yet a legal adult

If your circumstances do not meet these criteria, then your child could challenge your estate plan if you tried to disinherit them. Additionally, state law prevents you from disinheriting children who are not yet 24 and even adult children who have special needs and cannot independently support themselves.

There may be workarounds available. If you strongly feel like you need to limit what property passes to certain meet members of your family, there may be solutions, like putting property into a trust. Learning more about Louisiana inheritance laws can help when you create your estate plan.