People who watch dramatic television programs or films about families and disagreements within those families often have misplaced beliefs about reality and the law. In Louisiana, people might think they understand the basics about estate planning and deciding who can receive an inheritance as part of their estate. Often, there is a disparity with what they believe they can legally do and what is allowed.
In the state, there is a concept known as “forced heirship.” With it, the child of a person who dies and is 23 or younger or is mentally or physically incapacitated cannot be disinherited. This also applies to grandchildren if the parent (the child of the testator) has died. A forced heir will have the right to part of the testator’s estate at the time of his or her death. However, there are legal justifications for a parent to disinherit a child. Although this is a difficult decision, it is important to understand when and why this may be done.
It is unfortunate that children can sometimes be abusive to parents. If a child has raised a hand to strike the parent or has struck the parent, this is a reason for disinheritance. Threatening to do so is not enough. Cruel treatment, committing a criminal act or inflicting a grievous injury also justifies disinheritance. An attempt to take the parent’s life can warrant disinheritance. Coercing the parent or behaving violently to stop a parent from making a testament can be sufficient to disinherit the child.
If the child gets married as a minor and does not have the consent of the parent, it is cause for a disinheritance. A criminal conviction with the potential penalties of death or life imprisonment is a reason to disinherit the child. Finally, a child who is considered an adult and knows how to contact the parent but has failed to do so for two years without being in the military could be disinherited.
Disinheriting a child is a difficult decision, but there are instances where it is desired and necessary. Parents who are considering this option should understand how it can be done as part of an estate plan. It is not a simple matter of leaving the child out of the will. For assistance in taking this step, it is imperative to be on strong legal ground. Having help with estate planning and knowing about the law for these complex situations may be vital to achieve the desired result.