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The Basics Behind Louisiana’s Forced Heirship Estate Planning Law

In the state of Louisiana, a forced heir can be entitled to part of a decedent’s estate. A Louisiana forced heir could include a child who is under the age of 24 at the time the decedent passes away, a decedent’s child who is permanently incapacitated regardless of the child’s age, or the grandchildren of the decedent if the parent passed away prior to the decedent and that parent would have been younger than 24 at the time the decedent died or if the grandchild is permanently incapacitated.

The portion of the decedent’s estate to which the heir is entitled is known in Louisiana as the “forced portion”. The remainder of the decedent’s estate is called the disposable portion which the decedent can bequeath to any person or entity in a properly drafted will.

There are three primary steps taken to calculate the forced and disposable portions of the decedent’s estate:

  • Putting together the value of the entire estate (less retirement benefits or insurance policies)
  • Subtracting any debts associated with the estate
  • Factoring in any lifetime transfers made in the three years before the decedent’s death

If there is only one forced heir, that individual would be entitled to 25 percent of the estate. Everything else is the disposable portion. If there is more than one forced heir, the forced heirs would receive half of the estate and the rest would be considered “disposable”. However, any life insurance benefits or retirement or disability benefits payable to the forced heir is deemed a credit to the forced portion.

As you can see, this law can get complicated and have important ramifications when someone dies leaving a forced heir. An estate planning attorney can help families in Louisiana properly plan and determine how a particular estate will be treated.