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Can someone challenge a will because a parent excluded them?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Estate Planning

Losing a loved one is a very difficult experience, especially if it is a parent or other close member of one’s family of origin or choice. The grief that people experience may affect their behavior for months and could even leave to permanent changes in their personality.

Sometimes, the pain of losing someone becomes harder to handle because of secondary challenges that a grieving individual faces. For example, a child who has recently lost a parent might discover after the wake during the reading of their will that their parent seemingly left assets for all of their siblings but nothing for them. Can a child excluded from a parent’s estate plan challenge their will and seek an inheritance?

There is no statutory right of inheritance for children

When there is a will, there is no automatic right of inheritance for children. Although children usually receive property from an intestate estate with no documents, testators can choose who receives their property if they create an estate plan. The law in Louisiana does protect the right of spouses during succession proceedings. An individual cannot fully disinherit their spouse because of community property statutes. However, Louisiana law does not extend similar protections to the children of people who die.

Individuals can and frequently do make the difficult choice to exclude one or more presumptive beneficiaries from their estate plans. In some cases, it may be possible for the excluded family member to challenge the documents. Specifically, in a scenario where the paperwork does not mention them at all and instead only talks about the assets left for their siblings, it may be possible to claim that the estate plan was inaccurate and that the testator excluded that individual by mistake.

However, if the testator addressed the decision to disinherit someone or left them a disproportionate inheritance when compared with other beneficiaries, contesting the estate plan due to dissatisfaction may not be a realistic goal. Anyone intending to take legal action after a disappointing will reading typically needs to review the estate planning paperwork carefully and possibly discuss the matter with someone familiar with Louisiana succession laws.

Learning more about the requirements for disinheritance and the rules that govern succession may benefit those hoping to inherit from an estate in Louisiana make more informed decisions about their options.