Refusing an Inheritance

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Being named as a beneficiary or being an heir at law does not mean that you have to accept what is designated to go to you. It is possible to decline to receive your inheritance. A disclaimer is the form that would be executed to refuse receipt of what was left to you. The result of a disclaimer is that you are treated as if you predeceased the decedent. A will or the laws of intestacy would dictate how your share would be distributed among other beneficiaries.

There are a number of requirements for a valid disclaimer. The disclaimer must be in writing. It must adequately identify the decedent and the asset or amount being disclaimed. It is possible to do a full disclaimer or a partial disclaimer where you only refuse certain assets or a certain amount. The disclaimer has to be served on the person handling the estate, such as the executor or administrator, and/or filed with the court. You may elect to refuse an inheritance to avoid tax consequences or to attempt to carry out the intentions of the decedent if they hadn’t drafted a will or you knew of other intentions. A disclaimer is irrevocable so be sure of your decision prior to executing the document.