Can A Beneficiary Refuse An Inheritance?

By Vanessa DeDominicis

Seems unlikely, right? But it does happen – sometimes people don’t want to inherit money for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they had a broken relationship with the deceased and simply don’t want to take what they view as tainted money, so they want to refuse the money based on emotional grounds. Perhaps they are having issues with creditors and don’t want the deceased’s money to go straight to paying off their debts.

Whatever their reasons may be, it is possible to disclaim/waive an inheritance but it must be documented properly and time is of the essence.

There is no prescribed “form” for waiving an inheritance. The waiver should be properly drafted (preferably by a lawyer), signed by the beneficiary and properly witnessed. It MUST be done in a timely manner – that is key. Provided the beneficiary has not dealt with the gift/property in any way, they can likely quite easily disclaim their inheritance. If they waive their inheritance correctly and quickly, the gift is deemed void and falls back into the residue of the deceased’s Estate and will then be paid or given to someone else according to the Will (if there was one), or according to the laws of intestacy (if there wasn’t one).

To properly disclaim their inheritance, the beneficiary should have no control over who receives their inheritance. That must be determined by the deceased’s Will or intestacy laws.

This is provided as information ONLY; it should NOT be construed as legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to provide you with specific advice for your own situation. For more information on estate planning/incapacity planning and to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact Vanessa DeDominicis on 250-869-1140 or dedominicis@pushormitchell.com. Vanessa practices in the area of Wills and Estates at Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna and would be more than happy to assist you.