Sibling relationships come in many forms. Maybe you share both parents with your brother or sister and you grew up in the same home, or maybe you share one parent with your half-sibling, you have step-siblings, or you have siblings that were adopted by other families.
While you and your brother or sister are alive, you both get to define your relationship. However, after a sibling dies, Louisiana law will decide who your siblings are and which siblings may inherit property based on your family relations rather than your personal relationships.
Sibling Inheritance by Will
A person who dies with a valid will gets to decide how their property will be distributed, with limited exceptions for their spouse and children. That means, the testator (the person who created the will) may include or exclude anyone they consider a sibling regardless of whether that person is a full sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling, sibling who was adopted into another family, an adopted sibling raised by the same family, or even a friend or distant relative whom they considered a sibling.
As long as the will is valid and enforceable, the testator’s wishes will be honored by Louisiana courts, and the sibling(s) will inherit property.
Sibling Intestate Inheritance
Sibling inheritances become significantly more complicated when a person dies without a will. In these situations, two determinations must be made before sibling inheritance rights can be identified.
First, All Siblings Must Be Identified
According to Louisiana intestate law, the following siblings may inherit property:
- Full siblings. Full siblings are brothers and sisters who have the same parents. Full siblings are entitled to their full share of their sibling’s inheritance as allowed by Louisiana intestate laws.
- Half-siblings. Half-siblings are treated differently than full siblings. In most states, half-siblings have the same rights as full blood siblings; however, in Louisiana, half-siblings may only inherit through their bloodline. Therefore, half-siblings may inherit less than full siblings.
- Adopted-siblings. Both siblings put up for adoption and raised by other families and siblings adopted into the family are treated the same as biological siblings.
Foster siblings and step-siblings are not considered siblings pursuant to Louisiana intestacy law, even if they had a close relationship and lived as siblings for a long time.
Second, All Other Family Relationships Must Be Identified
In many cases, a sibling won’t inherit anything if their brother or sister dies without a will. If the person who passed away has children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, that person’s brothers and sisters do not inherit property in Louisiana. However, if the person who died did not have children, siblings may inherit property, as follows:
- Siblings inherit everything if the person who died also did not have a spouse or living parents.
- Siblings inherit all separate property if the person who died also had a spouse (and the spouse inherits all community property).
- Siblings inherit everything, subject to the parents’ life estate interest in all property if the person who died also had living parents.
Our Louisiana succession lawyers understand that you may have a lot of questions after your brother or sister dies. You don’t want to create unnecessary drama for your family, but you do want to make sure that your sibling’s estate is distributed according to the terms of your sibling’s will or Louisiana intestacy law.
We can help you by thoroughly reviewing your brother or sister’s estate and advising you of your legal options. If you should inherit property, we can help you through the probate process or with your estate litigation needs.
Our Louisiana estate and probate team helps hundreds of Louisiana families resolve complex and often emotional issues each year. We will help you come up with cost-effective and efficient solutions to your succession issues.
Please call us or complete our contact form today to schedule your first meeting as soon as possible.