Although it may seem counter-intuitive, there are times when assigning an inheritance to someone else or disclaiming an inheritance is a good idea. When there is a reason to do so, it can be done; however, there are specific legal procedures that must be followed in order to accomplish an assignment or disclaimer.
The obvious question for many is “Why would someone want to give up an inheritance?” There are a few reasons why people choose to do this, but the two most common are that the beneficiary wants to give the assets to the intended beneficiary or because receipt of the assets would create problems for the beneficiary.
Sometimes, if a person dies without executing a valid Last Will and Testament, an intended beneficiary gets left out. The most common situation in which this occurs is when a couple lives together but never marries. Intestate succession laws will not recognize the unmarried partner, meaning that children, parents, or other blood relations will inherit all of the decedent’s estate. If an heir knows that all, or a portion, of his or her inheritance was actually intended for the decedent’s partner, the heir may wish to assign the inheritance to the intended beneficiary.
Another common reason for disclaiming an inheritance is if the beneficiary receives crucial assistance from the state or federal government and the inheritance will cause the beneficiary to lose that assistance.
If you, or a loved one, find it necessary to assign or disclaim an inheritance, be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney first to ensure that it is done properly.
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