drafting a last will and testamentMany inheritance and succession laws in Louisiana are unique. For example, Louisiana is the only state in the nation that prevents parents from disinheriting children in certain circumstances.

Louisiana Has Forced Heirship Laws

Forced heirship is the legal requirement that a portion of a person's estate must be left to his or her children. Before the law was changed in the 1990s, every child was a forced heir in Louisiana. Now, only children under the age of 24 or children of any age who are mentally or physically incapacitated and incapable of caring for themselves are forced heirs.

If there is only one child who qualifies as a forced heir, then one-quarter of the estate is left to the forced heir. If, however, there is more than one child who qualifies as a forced heir, then half of the estate is left to the forced heirs to share.

When a Child May Be Disinherited

Parents are not required by law to leave anything in a will to children who are not forced heirs. However, if the child does qualify as a forced heir, a parent may only disinherit them for a reason allowed explicitly in the Louisiana statute. These reasons include that the child:

  • Raised a hand to strike the parent, or struck the parent (a verbal threat of violence, however, is insufficient)
  • Has been guilty of cruel treatment, crime, or grievous injury towards a parent
  • Attempted to take the life of a parent
  • Without any reasonable basis, accused a parent of committing a crime for which the legal punishment is life in prison or death
  • Has used any act of violence or coercion to prevent a parent from making a will
  • Is a minor who married without the consent of the parent
  • Has been convicted of a crime for which the legal punishment is life in prison or death
  • After turning 18 and knowing how to contact the parent, has failed to communicate with the parent without just cause for a period of two years, unless the child is on active duty with the United States military

The parent must expressly and specifically disinherit the child. The child must be identified, the reason for the disinheritance must be given, and both must be done in the same way a legal will would be made.

The reasons provided by the parent are presumed to be true, but they may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence. The child's unsupported testimony is not enough to overcome the presumption that the parent's reasons are true, but testimony from additional witnesses or other evidence may overcome the presumption. Proof of reconciliation between child and parent would also overcome the presumption.

Additionally, a child who was too young to understand or who did not have the mental capacity to understand the impropriety of their behavior may not be disinherited.

Where You Illegally Disinherited?

If you believe you qualify as a forced heir and that your parent unjustly disinherited you, let our experienced succession lawyers review the issue for you. Contact our New Orleans succession attorneys today to learn more.