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Disclaiming An Inheritance

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The idea of someone renouncing or disclaiming a gift given to him in a will can sound strange to other people. However, sometimes some people have good reasons to choose to refuse a bequest.

One reason a person may want to disclaim an inheritance is to avoid any tax liability associated with inheriting the property. Another reason may be because the person, for personal reasons, simply does not want to receive anything from the deceased. Whatever, the reason, Florida law does not force a person to take what is left to them in a will, and a person who wishes to renounce or disclaim inherited property may do so.

While a person can accept an inheritance and then dispose of it, for someone who wants to renounce an inheritance, it may be important to ensure that the property never passes to them in the first place. For this reason, the person wants to ensure that they disclaim the inheritance meeting all legal requirements, including meeting a time limit within which to execute the disclaimer.

A disclaimer of an inheritance operates to bypass the intended beneficiary and pass the property to be inherited to the next eligible heir or back to the deceased’s estate. For disclaimer purposes, the disclaiming beneficiary is legally presumed to have died before the testator who left him property in a will. Because of this, once the disclaimer is finalized, the property is passed on to the testator’s other heirs, and not to the potential heirs of the disclaiming beneficiary – unless they happen to be the same people.

Disclaimers must be in writing and delivered to the person handling the deceased’s estate in a timely manner. In addition, the disclaimer must be irrevocable to be valid. A person wishing to disclaim an inheritance will not get to change his mind later, at least not without a legal challenge in most cases.

Sometimes, people may choose to disclaim an inheritance in order to ensure that another person gets the inheritance. For example, a parent may disclaim an inheritance to ensure that his children receive the property in his place. However, sometimes the person who receives the disclaimed property is not necessarily the person the disclaimer thinks it will be. There may be other people named in the will who would receive the disclaimed property. Alternatively, the deceased may have a trust with different beneficiaries. The trust may be the designated beneficiary under the will if the property is disclaimed.

Therefore, the decision to disclaim an inheritance must be made in full consideration of all the consequences of that decision. If the person seeking to disclaim an inheritance has no idea who the next beneficiary will be, he may want to find out this information before disclaiming the inheritance, especially if it is important for the disclaiming person that the property goes to someone else.

Contact Us for More Information

There are many reasons, legal and personal, to disclaim an inheritance. Whatever your reason, we can help you ensure that you legally disclaim any property inherited through a will. For more information on how you can disclaim an inheritance or for advice on whether or not disclaiming the inheritance is the right move, contact an experienced estate planning attorney from the Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group located in The Villages, Florida.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_Mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0732/Sec801.htm&StatuteYear=2004

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