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Disclaiming An Inheritance

When a person receives an inheritance and for some reason does not wish to accept or keep the inheritance, he can legally disclaim the inheritance. As a probate lawyer can explain, once a person disclaims an inheritance, it is as though the person disclaiming the gift died before the person who left him the gift in a will or through another instrument.

 One common reason for a disclaimer of an inheritance is avoiding federal or state taxes associated with the inheritance. A well-executed disclaimer operates as though there was no transfer to the disclaimer for tax purposes.

Inheritance laws allow for a total or a partial disclaimer of an inheritance. Therefore, if a person wishes to take possession of some assets and disclaim others, he can. Once disclaimed, the assets are divided as part of the original owner’s estate. So for example, if a person disclaims an inheritance from his father, the inheritance goes back into the estate of the father and is distributed as part of that estate. The disclaimed property does not pass on to the disclaimer’s heirs unless they are also heirs of the father in this example.

A person writing a will can include provisions that describe what should happen to property once it is disclaimed. This can include passing the property to other heirs, or to an organization. People who want to ensure that a disclaimed inheritance is passed on according to their wishes should discuss this aspect of estate planning with an experienced attorney.

In order to disclaim an inheritance, the person disclaiming the property has to describe the property to be disclaimed in writing, sign the disclaimer, and deliver it to the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate. If the property to be disclaimed is in a trust, the disclaimer should be delivered to the trustee. In some cases, the disclaimer can be delivered to a person who has possession of the property, even though the person is not a trustee or executor of the estate.

Once a person has accepted an inheritance or signed a waiver of disclaimer, he cannot then disclaim the inheritance. Therefore, it is important that a person considering disclaimer also consider the repercussions of the decision before disclaiming the property. It may help to discuss the possibility of disclaimer with an experienced estate planning attorney before executing a disclaimer.

Under some circumstances, it is possible for a person who is legally responsible for a minor to disclaim property that is inherited by the minor. This usually requires a court’s permission.

Contact an Estate Planning Law Firm Today

If you would like more information about putting together your estate plan, including the different types of trusts that may be beneficial to you, make sure you speak with a lawyer who is skilled and knowledgeable in estate law. Call an experienced attorney, like a probate lawyer from a law firm like Carpenter & Lewis PLLC.