If you are the parent of a disabled child in Louisiana, at your death,
your child can suddenly become ineligible for Medicaid benefits.
Louisiana's Forced Heirship rules
impact families with disabled children.
Louisiana is the only state in the United States that requires parents to leave a portion of their estates to their children. This concept is referred to as "forced heirship".
Prior to 1995, children were deemed as a matter of law to be forced heirs for life in Louisiana. Efforts to limit forced heirship prior to that time were declared unconstitutional by the Louisiana Supreme Court. However, that year, the voters approved an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution authorizing the legislature to classify descendants twenty-three years of age or younger as forced heirs. It also allowed the legislature to classify as forced heirs descendants of any age who, because of mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of their persons or administering their estates.
Currently, children are deemed to be forced heirs until their twenty-fourth birthdays. However, children with mental incapacities or physical infirmities that render them permanently incapable of taking care of themselves or administering their estates are forced heirs for LIFE.
In 2003, the forced heirship rules were again amended by the Louisiana legislature. Under the latest revisions, the definition of persons deemed to be permanently incapable of taking care of themselves or administering their estates was expanded to include descendants "...who, at the time of death of the decendent, have, according to medical documentation, an inherited, incurable disease or condition that may render them incapable of caring for their persons or administering their estates in the future." It is likely that this latest amendment will significantly expand the number of persons who will be considered to be forced heirs for life under the law.
Can a granchild be deemed to be a forced heir of a grandparent? Yes, in fact, under Louisiana law, if a grandchild has a mental incapacity or physical infirmity deemed to render such grandchild permanently incapable of taking care of his person or adminstering his estate, and the parent of such child happens to predecease the grandparent of the child, the grandchild is deemed by law to be a forced heir of the surviving grandparent.
Louisiana's forced heirship rules significantly impact Medicaid planning for a disabled family member. Because of the stringent limitations on countable resources that a disabled individual may own and still be eligible for Medicaid benefits, forced heirship can cause a person to suddenly become ineligible for benefits upon the death of a parent. It is critical that proper planning steps be taken by parents of disabled children to insure their continuing eligibility for Medicaid and other benefits.
Medicaid planning for a disabled family member is extremely complicated in light of Lousiana's forced heirship rules. However, we can help you plan your estate to effectively deal with these issues.