Legal Wording for When an Heir Wants to Relinquish Interests in a Property

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Legal Wording for When an Heir Wants to Relinquish Interests in a Property

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

An heir is not required to take possession of any property given to them by someone else, including an inheritance, if they do not want it. If this is the case for you, there are certain ways you can disclaim the property and relinquish your interests. When you refuse property, it passes on to the next beneficiary. Disclaimers must include specific information and must be filed within a certain period of time.

Suited man reviewing paperwork with a group of people

Reasons to Disclaim Property

A person can refuse to accept a gift or inheritance for any reason. Three of the most common reasons are to reduce the size of an estate, to pass property to the next in line, or to adjust the intended gift.

Small estates are generally exempt from paying state and federal estate taxes. If the gift given to you significantly increases the value of your estate so that it crosses a certain threshold, it may be subject to estate taxes when you die. If you are worried about this, you may want to disclaim the property to reduce the size of your estate.

Instead of accepting the property and then passing it on to the next beneficiary in line, it may be easier and more efficient to disclaim it. This will allow it to automatically skip over you. This avoids gift taxes as well.

The gift might not be worth what the deceased originally thought it would be. Or keeping the property might cost more than what it's worth. If either of these are true in your circumstances, you may decide to disclaim the inheritance to avoid the hassles altogether.

How to Phrase a Disclaimer

The exact language required in your disclaimer depends on the laws of the state that has jurisdiction over the property and the type of property you want to deny. Generally, however, you must include in writing your name, the deceased's name, a description of the property to be disclaimed, and the extent of the disclaimer.

For instance, if you want to refuse all of your rights to a family home, your disclaimer might state, "I, (name), fully disclaim all rights, titles, benefits, and other interests in the real property located at (address)." You must sign the disclaimer in the presence of a notary public and have it notarized.

How to Deliver the Disclaimer

It is imperative that you deliver the disclaimer to the proper person. State law governs who this person is, but the majority of the time the disclaimer must be signed and delivered to the person in control of the estate—typically the estate executor or personal representative.

However, some states require the disclaimer to be delivered to the court with jurisdiction over the estate. State law also dictates how long an heir or beneficiary has to deliver this document. For example, California requires a disclaimer to be filed within nine months of the deceased's death.

Once you disclaim the property, it goes to the person next in line under the terms of the will or a state's intestate succession laws. For more information on disclaimers or estates, contact an online service provider today.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.