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What to consider before refusing an inheritance

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Estate Litigation

When a parent, grandparent or spouse passes away, you may be entitled to a portion of that person’s assets. However, in some cases, it may make sense to refuse to inherit a New York home or other property that may have been left to you in a will or trust.

Reasons to decline an inheritance

Typically, you will decline an inheritance because you don’t want to pay taxes associated with doing so. When you follow the disclaiming procedure, your rights to an asset are essentially removed, and it’s like you never owned it at all. Depending on your exact circumstances, it may be worthwhile to disclaim only a portion of your inheritance.

How to disclaim assets

To disclaim an asset, you must make a written declaration stating that this is your intent. If you were an adult when an item was passed to you, this must be done within nine months of the asset’s original owner’s death. Minors have nine months after reaching the age of majority to take such a step. Furthermore, you must verify that you have no influence over others who may receive property that you have declined to take. Often, any items included in a disclaimer will pass to the next beneficiary listed in a will, trust or other estate plan documents. You may be subject to litigation of the estate if there is evidence that you violated any of these guidelines.

Although you have the right to decline an inheritance, there are strict protocols that you must follow to do so. Failing to follow them may delay a probate process or cause other issues as it relates to settling a deceased loved one’s affairs. Reviewing your own estate plan may prevent someone from needing to disclaim an inheritance after you pass.