Louisiana is the only state with forced heirship laws. What is a forced heir? A forced heir is either your child or grandchild if your child or grandchild meets certain requirements.

What are the requirements for a child or grandchild to be a forced heir in Louisiana?

Requirement for Your Child to be a Forced Heir

In Louisiana your child will be a forced heir if your child:

  1. Is twenty-three (23) years of age or younger at the time of your death; OR
  2. Regardless of age, has a mental or physical condition, such that your child is permanently incapable of taking care of his or her person or administering his or her estate at the time of your death.

Requirement for Your Grandchild to be a Forced Heir

Your grandchild may be a forced heir if:

  1. Your child died before you; AND
    1. Your child would been twenty-three (23) years or younger at the time of your death; OR
    2. Regardless of your child or grandchild’s age, your grandchild has a mental or physical condition, such that your grandchild is permanently incapable of taking care of his or her person or administering his or her estate at the time of your death.

Permanently Incapable of Taking Care of Person or Administering Estate

Louisiana law clarifies that “permanently incapable of taking care of his or her person or administering his or her estate” includes descendants who, at the time of the decedent’s death, have a medically documented, inherited, incurable disease or condition that may render him or her incapable of taking care of his or her person or administering his or her estate in the future.

A medically documented, inherited, incurable disease or condition includes down syndrome, autism, bipolarism, and potentially even alcoholism.

What Having a Child or Grandchild as a Forced Heir Means

So you have a forced heir, or multiple forced heirs, but what does that mean? If you have a forced heir, or multiple forced heirs, Louisiana law requires you to leave a certain portion of your estate to your forced heir, or forced heirs. This means that not all of your estate is available for you to give to whom you wish.

What happens if you have a forced heir, but you didn’t leave your forced heir anything? In such a situation, Louisiana law directs how to reduce the assets you did give away until your forced heir, or forced heirs, receive the portion of your estate that the law requires.

For example, if you have one forced heir but you leave nothing to your forced heir, then your forced heir can sue to get his or her forced portion.

What Portion Is Your Forced Heir Entitled To?

If you have one (1) forced heir, your forced heir is entitled to one-fourth (1/4) of your estate. If you have two (2) or more forced heirs, your forced heirs are entitled to one-half (1/2) of your estate in equal portion. If you have two (2) forced heirs, each forced heir will receive one-fourth (1/4) of your estate. If you have three (3) forced heirs, each forced heir will receive one-sixth (1/6) of your estate.

Are There Ways Around Louisiana’s Forced Heirship?

Yes, Louisiana law does provide ways around for you to prevent your forced heir from getting any of your property in limited circumstances. One such circumstance is if you have not talked to your forced heir in over two years and your forced heir is over the age of eighteen (18).

To make sure your assets go to whom you want, seek legal representation with us at Hoyt & Stanford, L.L.C. for your estate planning needs.

Jena is an Attorney & Counselor at Law whose primary areas of practice are Tax Law and Estate Planning and is located in Lafayette, LA