Understanding Forced Heirship
One of the many unique aspects of Louisiana law is the concept of forced heirship. It’s also one of the most confusing for our clients. Here, I’ve addressed some of our most frequently asked questions regarding forced heirship.
1) Who is a forced heir?
A child who is under twenty-four at the time of your death.
A child who is permanently incapable at the time of your death, regardless of age.
This means that they are permanently incapable of taking care of their person or administering their estate due to mental incapacity or physical infirmity.
The incapacity can be an inherited, incurable disease which will render the child incapable in the future, but this must be supported by medical documentation at the time of your death.
A grandchild whose parent predeceased you and the parent would have been under twenty-four at the time of your death.
A grandchild whose parent predeceased you and the grandchild is permanently incapable at the time of your death, regardless of age.
2) How can you disinherit a forced heir?
The method of disinheriting the forced heir must:
Be in writing,
Specifically list the cause, which must have already occurred,
Specifically identify the forced heir, or make it very clear to whom you are referring.
There are ONLY eight reasons for disinheriting a forced heir. They are applicable to children and grandchildren, except for marrying without your permission as a minor. These reason are:
A child raised a hand to you or has actually struck you,
A child is guilty of cruel treatment, a crime, or grievous injury toward you,
A child tried to kill you,
A child accused you, without reasonable basis, of a crime for which the punishment is life in prison or death,
A child used violence or coercion to try to prevent you from making a Will,
A child married without your permission while they were a minor,
A child was convicted of a crime for which the punishment is life in prison or death,
A child hasn’t contacted you for more than two years, without just cause, after turning 18, unless they were on active U.S. military duty for that time.
In this instance, after two years has passed with no contact, it does not matter if the child tries to contact you unless you reconcile with them.
3) Can a disinherited forced heir overcome the disinherison?
Only by showing:
They reconciled with you after the fact,
The best form of proof of reconciliation would be a signed writing.
They were incapable of understanding their behavior because of age or mental capacity,
Their behavior was unintentional, or
Their behavior was justified under the circumstances.
4) What does a forced heir get?
If you leave one forced heir, they are entitled to one-fourth of your estate.
If you leave two or more forced heirs, they are entitled to split one-half of your estate.
5) What property is subject to forced heirship?
If there is a forced heir who is domiciled in Louisiana at the time of your death, the answer is ALL of your property is subject to Louisiana forced heirship law.
What if you die while living in another state, but you own property in Louisiana?
If there is a forced heir who lives in Louisiana, the property is subject to forced heirship laws, regardless of where you were living at the time of your death.
What if you own property outside of Louisiana, but have a forced heir who lives in Louisiana?
While Louisiana courts have no jurisdiction over property located in other states, the court will take into account the value of the property located in other states when calculating the portion to which your forced heirs are entitled.