Heirs and beneficiaries may disclaim all or part of an inheritance should they decide that the inheritance is more trouble than it's worth. It is possible, for example, to inherit real property that is located too far away to be of benefit, or personal property that simply isn't wanted. Additionally, tax consequences may render an inheritance a liability. When property is inherited jointly -- by two heirs or benefices together -- if the heirs can't decide how to share the property, or if refinancing is required and one heir can't qualify, it may be easier for one party to bow out by disclaiming the inheritance.
Draft a renunciation or disclaimer form. Such preprinted forms can be acquired from a local probate court or an online legal document provider. You also may draft your own. Check your state's probate statutes to ensure that all the information required by your jurisdiction is included in the document. Generally, an inheritance renunciation or disclaimer form must be in writing and must contain the name of the decedent, a description of the inheritance to be disclaimed, a statement of intent to disclaim the inheritance and a description of what portion of the inheritance is disclaimed. Sign the form in the presence of a notary public and have it notarized.
Read More: What Is a Waiver of Inheritance?
Check your state's probate statutes to confirm any time deadline required by your state for disclaiming an inheritance. California, for example, requires that the renunciation or disclaimer form be filed within nine months of the decedent's death, or within nine months the inheritance becomes "indefeasibly vested," whichever is later.
File the form within your state's required time frame. Check your state probate code to find out where to file the form. Some states require that the form be filed by delivering it to the estate's personal representative, commonly known as the executor. Confirm that your jurisdiction also does not require you to file a copy directly with the court.
If you miss the deadline established by your state for filing a disclaimer or renunciation of inheritance, the inheritance becomes yours and renunciation is no longer an option.
Once you disclaim your inheritance, it is as if you were never named in the will, or were never in the line of intestate succession. There are no tax consequences or other arrangements to make regarding the property you would have inherited. What would have been your inheritance passes to the next heir in line, according to the terms of the will, or in the absence of a will according to your state's rules of intestate succession.
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.