When estate planning lawyers help people choose inheritances, they focus on developing strategies that are designed to leave as much as possible to family members, heirs, charitable institutions, and other beneficiaries. However, when viewed from the point of view of someone who stands to receive an inheritance, becoming an inheritor is not always a good idea. Though it might sound strange, refusing an inheritance is something you might want to do. Here is what you should know about it.
No one is ever obligated to accept an inheritance.
Even if someone leaves you a large inheritance, you have no legal duty to accept it. For example, let’s say your grandfather was an avid collector of vintage automobiles. He left behind several cars, and after he dies you learned that he left all of them to you with the instruction that the collection should remain intact. Even though you love your grandfather, there might be no way you have the time or inclination to maintain the collection in the manner he would’ve wanted. In this situation, you might choose to refuse the inheritance.
Inheritances aren’t erased by your refusal.
Let’s say you refuse an inheritance. What happens next? While the exact disposition of the inherited property will depend upon the circumstances of each situation, the property won’t simply vanish or go away. Someone will have to receive it and become the new owner. In some situation, the inheritances might pass to a close relative, someone named in the will, or even be inherited by the state.
There are several reasons why you might choose to refuse an inheritance.
Apart from not having a desire to receive inheritances, there are some more practical reasons why people might choose to refuse an inherited gift. If, for example, you are in debt, your creditors will likely be able to seize your inheritance in order to satisfy that debt. On the other hand, you might be in a position where you don’t really need an inheritance, but would prefer it be transferred to someone else. If your refusal makes such a transfer possible, refusing the inheritance makes a lot of sense.