When a person declines an inheritance

| Mar 18, 2021 | Estate Planning And Probate |

It may seem a bit counterintuitive to Texas residents to think someone may not want an inheritance left for them. But this situation arises from time to time with estates all over the country. The reasons for declining an inheritance may differ, but the necessary steps to complete this process is similar in most cases.

Declining an inheritance

No law exists that makes it mandatory to accept an inheritance. But the process for declining money and assets left to a person is likely to become a little more involved for the person than simply saying they do not want it.

A person declining an inheritance must first make their refusal to accept the assets known in writing. People deciding they do not want the assets left to them must disclaim the assets within nine months of the original owner’s death. The declining beneficiary must also have not benefitted financially from any part of the inheritance before preparing their written disclaimer.

Beneficiaries declining an inheritance should also know that finding an indirect method to possess inherited assets violates laws that govern the estate planning process. Declining beneficiaries also have no say in the contingent beneficiaries who become next in line to receive items from the estate.

What happens to assets

The assets in the inheritance will go to the contingent beneficiary named by the original property owner. If the estate plan does not include other beneficiaries, the property reverts to the estate. A probate court may then distribute the property as if the decedent left no will behind.

A spouse and children will take precedence when a probate court distributes assets. Other relatives might receive the property if the deceased person did not possess a spouse or children at the time of their death. In some rare cases, property left behind by a person with no heirs becomes property of the state.

Estate planning rules and regulations are complex issues that are too important to risk error. Individuals concerned with the allocation of assets after their death may benefit from speaking with an attorney.