Parents don’t typically choose to leave their adult children out of their estate plan unless they believe they’ve given them sufficient advantages to make their way in the world, they’ve become completely estranged or they believe a child would only waste or use any inherited assets to harm themselves.
In this latter instance, what’s often called a “spendthrift” trust can preserve assets for a child until they demonstrate that they’re responsible enough to use them. These trusts are managed by designated trustees.
Who can be considered a forced heir?
Louisiana has a unique law (the only one in the country) that prohibits the disinheritance of some adult children (those 18 or older) under various circumstances. This is called “forced heirship.”
Forced heirs include adult children who are not yet 24 when the parent dies. They also include adult children of any age if they’re “permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estates at the time of the death of the decedent” due to “mental incapacity or physical infirmity.”
A forced heir is entitled to receive 25% of the estate, regardless of what the estate plan designated. If an adult child predeceases their parent, forced heirship rights can pass to the decedent’s grandchild if they meet those same requirements.
There are some exceptions that can allow a parent to disinherit a “forced heir.” They generally involve violence by the heir against the parent.
A special needs trust can allow you to provide for a dependent adult child
Most people don’t need to think about the forced heirship law when they create their estate plan. If you have a child of any age with special needs, for example, the best way to ensure that they’re taken care of after you’re gone and that they don’t lose out on any government benefits is to create a special needs trust.
Every family is highly unique. By having experienced legal guidance, you can determine how best to protect and provide for all of your loved ones under Louisiana law.