Laws Regarding Renouncing Inheritance in Louisiana

by Joe Stone

Louisiana law permits you to fully renounce any inheritance you are entitled to receive. You also have the option of renouncing a portion of the inheritance. A renunciation of your inheritance waives any claim or interest you would otherwise have in the inheritance. The party to whom you should address your renunciation depends upon the terms of the will in which you are a named beneficiary or, in the absence of a will, in accordance with the inheritance laws of the state of Louisiana.

Renunciation Requirements

Under Louisiana law, if you wish to renounce an inheritance, your statement "must be express and in writing," but no specific wording is required. Two prerequisites must be satisfied for your renunciation to be effective: you must have knowledge that the person leaving you an inheritance has died and you must know that you have inheritance rights in the decedent’s property. An attempt to renounce an inheritance before the individual passes away will have no legal effect. Another important limitation is that the legal representative of a minor can renounce the minor's inheritance only with approval by the court.

Intestate Inheritance (No Will)

If the person leaving you an inheritance died without a will, Louisiana laws on intestate succession will determine who receives your renounced inheritance. For the purpose of applying these laws, you are legally considered to have passed away before the decedent. Intestate succession laws can be complex and depend on the type of property involved, such as whether it is separate or community property.

Testate Inheritance (By Will)

If your inheritance was bequeathed by a valid will, your renunciation will be subject to the provisions of the will. For example, the will might specifically provide that a renounced inheritance must be given to a particular person or divided among the other heirs. If the will does not include such a provision, the inheritance goes to the person who would have received it had you predeceased the decedent.

Acceptance of the Inheritance and Donation

Louisiana law permits you to renounce your inheritance to a specific person, although the law considers you to have accepted the inheritance and made a donation. Using this procedure, you avoid having your renounced inheritance pass to another individual named in the will or as provided under the law. If your inheritance involves real estate, the writing you use to donate your inheritance must be an "authentic act" under Louisiana law, which means the writing must be signed before a notary and two witnesses.