No matter how strong your relationship with your family is, your ties to certain loved ones may fray over time. These individuals may be among your estate’s beneficiaries. Yet, if your relationship has changed for the worse, you will likely want to disinherit them. As you revise your estate plan to reflect these intentions, though, you will want to proceed with care.
Disinheriting a child
Louisiana has some of the strictest inheritance laws in the country. While other states allow you to disinherit an adult child, Louisiana only permits this in exceptional circumstances. You can only disinherit your child if they are 24 or older and you have just cause to do so. To meet this threshold, your child must have:
- Harmed or threatened you
- Committed a crime against you
- Attempted to end your life
- Received conviction for a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death
- Accused you of committing a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death
- Married without your consent, if they are a minor
- Failed to communicate with you for at least two years
If your child, no matter their age, has a physical or mental condition that prevents them from taking care of themselves, you cannot disinherit them in Louisiana.
Disinheriting your spouse
Because Louisiana is a community property state, you may have difficulty disinheriting your spouse. Once you die, they become entitled to half of your estate, unless they waived their right to an inheritance in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You can name other beneficiaries to your community property in your will or trust, though this will likely lead to challenges.
If you are recently divorced, you must make sure you revise your estate plan to ensure your former spouse is not a beneficiary. Furthermore, if you have named them as the beneficiary to your retirement accounts or life insurance plan, you will want to change the designations on these. Otherwise, your former spouse could end up inheriting them.
Disinheriting other relatives
Disinheriting a sibling, parent or distant relative is easier than writing your spouse or child out of your estate plan. If your plan includes a will, though, keep in mind that the disinherited individual could discover your action. Because wills pass through probate court, they become public record. Any individual interested in reviewing your will can obtain a copy through the proper probate court. Your disinherited beneficiary may proceed with this course of action and decide to challenge your will based on their findings. But by including a no contest clause in your will, you can prevent them from receiving an inheritance if their challenge fails.
If your estate plan includes a trust, you will have an easier time disinheriting a beneficiary than if it only consists of a will. Trusts disburse in private; their provisions do not become public record. Only your beneficiaries will receive a copy of the trust document and be able to challenge it. Since any individual you disinherit will no longer be a beneficiary, they will not be privy to their status – or be able to make a challenge.