What is Forced Heirship?
Forced heirship laws are unique to Louisiana. It’s basically a way to prevent parents from disinheriting their children.
Who is a Forced Heir?
Louisiana defines a “forced heir” to include any child under the age of 24 or any child, no matter the age, who is permanently physically or mentally disabled. If a child does not fall into one of those two categories, then the parent is not required to leave anything to that child. A grandchild may be considered a forced heir as well if their parent has already passed and their parent would have been 23 years old or younger or permanently incapacitated at the time of your death.
What is the Forced Portion?
Louisiana laws require that a certain portion of the estate must go to the forced heirs. To determine the amount due to forced heirs, the estate must be divided into two shares: the forced portion and the disposable portion. The forced portion is the share that goes to the forced heirs while the disposable portion is distributed either through intestacy or in accordance with the Last Will and Testament. When calculating the forced portion, any donations made by the decedent within the last three years of his or her life is included in his property.
If there is only one forced heir, that heir is entitled to 25% of the estate. If more than one forced heir, the forced heirs will receive half of the estate. One restriction on the forced portion is that a forced heir cannot receive more than he or she would have received had the decedent died intestate.
Planning for Forced Heirship
If properly planned, you can reduce the impact of forced heirship. You may wish to place their forced portion in a trust overseen by a Trustee you appoint. You can also utilize a usufruct to your spouse so that your spouse has full use of the property, including the forced portion, during their lifetime.
If your child receives disability, then the required inheritance may disqualify them from continuing to receive SSI and/or Medicaid. In that case, you may wish to set up a special needs trust to allow your child to continue receiving their benefits.