If you have a forced heir, you have to leave a portion of your estate to them in your will. But, how much are you required to leave them? That amount is called the “forced portion.”
The Forced Portion
The forced portion is the part of the estate that you are required to leave to your forced heirs. The part that is not forced, that you can do with as you want, is called the disposable portion. If there is one forced heir, the forced portion is one fourth of the estate. If there are two or more forced heirs, the forced portion is half. In any case, the forced heir is not entitled to more than they would have received if the decedent died without a will.
So, for example, if there is one child and the child is a forced heir, he or she must be left at least one quarter of the estate. But, if the one forced heir has five brothers and sisters who are not forced heirs, he is entitled to one sixth, because that is what the forced heir would have received if there was no will.
Life insurance and most retirement benefits do not count towards calculating the forced portion amount, but can be used to satisfy the forced portion. For example, let’s say there is a single descendant who is a forced heir, a $100,000 estate, and a life insurance policy worth $20,000 to the forced heir.
The forced portion is one quarter of the $100,000 estate. The insurance is not counted, so the forced portion is $25,000. The heir gets the insurance worth $20,000. Only $5,000 would have to come out of the estate to satisfy the forced portion. Life insurance can be a useful tool to keep from having to break up assets in the estate.