When people develop their estate plans, they often don’t bother asking their heirs whether they actually want the things they’re leaving them. They just assume they do – or they want them to have these items. When it’s money, of course, that’s not a problem. Even a pocket watch collection can be easily stored away or sold if you’re not sentimental about it or your loved one didn’t want it passed down to future generations.
Some assets, however, are more trouble than they’re worth. If your grandmother left you her century-old home thousands of miles away, you may determine that it’s not worth the time, money and stress it would take to fix it up enough to sell it. The same could be true of an old sailboat your father kept docked in New England. Maybe someone else in the family really would like these things.
How do you “disclaim” an inheritance?
You can officially decline or “disclaim” an inheritance under the Florida Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act (and federal law). To do this, you need to notify the executor of the estate or the probate court. Under the law, if the deceased person designated a “contingent beneficiary,” the asset will transfer to them. If they didn’t name a contingent beneficiary, the asset is returned to the estate. The court and the executor will need to work out what to do with it.
By disclaiming the inheritance promptly (which can only be done if you don’t take possession of it, use it or benefit from it in any way), the law treats it as though you never inherited it. That means you don’t have to pay any taxes on it.
If you inherit a large asset you don’t want, it’s important to weigh your options before you decide to disclaim it. You may prefer to donate it, for example. It’s a good idea to get some legal guidance before making your decision.