Believe it or not, you are not alone. We do hear the question, “What do I do if I don’t want to inherit something” in our office periodically. Beneficiaries disclaim for various reasons. For instance, they want the assets to go to someone else such as the deceased’s children; they don’t want to take responsibility for the assets; or they simply just don’t want the assets.
If you don’t want to inherit an asset, you say “no thank you” legally. This legal “no thank you” is called a disclaimer. The disclaimer must be made in writing within 9 months after death. It is important that you do not use any of the property as your own during those 9 months. You are not able to specify where the property goes next. The property will pass to the next beneficiary, the person who would have inherited if you had died before the deceased. The next beneficiary is determined by the laws of intestate succession. Otherwise, the terms of the Will or Trust apply.
If you do not want the asset to go to the next beneficiary, you could accept the assets and then gift them to whomever you like. Be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney as you may not want to accept any real property with environmental issues such as gas station and will need to file a gift tax return if the assets gifted are valued at more than $13,000 in any one calendar year. The gift tax return must be filed by April 15th of the year following the year of the gift. Unless you have used your lifetime gift tax exemption, which is unlikely, you will not owe any gift taxes but you are required to file the return (709).
If you have any questions about disclaiming an inheritance, please feel free to telephone our office. We’d be happy to chat with you. 858-792-5988.