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What does “forced heirship” mean for Louisianans?

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Louisiana has a number of unique laws and legal doctrines. Among them is something “forced heirship.” Basically, it means that parents cannot disinherit any child who is not yet 24 years old or who is unable to care for themselves.

If a parent dies intestate (without a will), the law requires that their children must receive a portion of an estate. If they have a will, parents typically leave something to adult children – particularly if they’re still younger – even if they’re not required to. Further, parents with adult children who are permanently disabled or incapacitated can set up a special needs trust for them. Yet, Louisiana is the only state in the country that codifies the requirement of an inheritance until an adult child has reached the age of 24.

What does the law require?

Under the law, if a parent dies without leaving an inheritance to an adult child who is under 24 or who is “permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estates…[because of] mental incapacity or physical infirmity,”  that child is required to receive a portion of their parent’s estate. If there are multiple children who meet the qualification, they must share a portion of the estate.

The primary exceptions to the forced heirship requirement involves a child who has a documented history of violence toward their parent. Further, if an adult child who would otherwise meet the requirement has already passed away, the forced heirship can then transfer to that adult child’s child(ren).

This is just a cursory review of the forced heirship doctrine. It’s important to know about it as you begin your estate planning if you have one or more young adult children. If you’re concerned about how a child would use such an inheritance, there are steps you can take to place their inheritance in a trust that would help protect the assets from being spent on frivolous things or – worse – on things like drugs that would cause them harm.

Every family is unique. That’s why it’s crucial to have sound legal guidance as you develop your estate plan. This will help you ensure that your approach meets your needs and goals – and that it complies with Louisiana law.