Forced heirship is a concept that exists only in the State of Louisiana. It is a unique aspect of Louisiana’s civil law system, based on the Napoleonic Code, rather than the common law system found in most other states in the United States.
Forced heirship is designed to protect the rights of certain heirs in inheritance matters. It ensures that certain family members, known as forced heirs, receive a portion of a deceased person’s estate, regardless of the provisions made in the person’s Will.
In Louisiana, forced heirs are:
– Children who are under the age of 24.
– Children of any age who are permanently incapacitated, mentally or physically, from taking care of their own affairs.
Under the forced heirship rules, these eligible children are entitled to a portion of their parent’s estate, known as the “forced portion.” The forced portion is usually a fixed percentage of the estate’s value and may vary depending on the number of forced heirs. For one forced heir, the portion is 25% of the decedent’s estate. If two or more forced heirs, then the portion is 50%.
Proper estate planning through a very well-crafted Last Will and Testament can offer protection to the surviving spouse, making their life so much easier upon the first spouse’s death. The surviving spouse can be left a portion of the estate, known as the “usufruct,” which grants them the right to use and enjoy certain assets during their lifetime. This can be expanded in the Will to give the spouse the authority to sell assets subject to the usufruct and allow the usufruct to attach to the proceeds of such sale. These protections are necessary which can make life for the surviving spouse easier as any sale of assets subject to the usufruct without a Will would require agreement by the forced heir to the sale .
That’s how important having a Will in Louisiana is and why you should speak to an estate planning specialist to help you navigate the law and craft your Will for you.
New Orleans Estate Planning Attorney