Once upon a time, it was unheard of for a family member to decline a piece of property bequeathed to them by a deceased loved one, but today, it is becoming more and more common for individuals to do just that. With the housing marketing on perpetually shaky ground, and property taxes at an all time high, receiving a house, condo, or other pieces of real property from a deceased loved one poses more of a liability than anything else. If you want to disclaim your inheritance, you are free to do so, as no one is required to accept an inheritance. However, before you do, make sure that it is what you really want, as once the decision is made, there is no going back.

Some Considerations to Make Before Disclaiming Your Inheritance

Before a client decides to disclaim their inheritance, our Renton probate attorneys typically ask them to consider the following two points:

To Whom the Property Will Go Upon Disclaiming It: Before disclaiming an inheritance, it is important to understand that you cannot direct to whom it goes afterward. The will, trust, or other estate planning document should specify who gets a bequest if it is denied or if the intended recipient has already passed away. However, if there are no additional beneficiaries named, Washington state intestacy succession laws will take over.

Washington intestacy succession laws basically establish an order of distribution in the event that a deceased individual did not leave a will, trust, or other forms of estate planning document, or in the event that the sole beneficiary of an estate has disclaimed their inheritance or passed away before the testator. Intestate succession considers the degree of the relationship between the deceased and his or her heirs to dictate to whom a piece of property should go to first. Typically, an individual’s spouse is first in line, followed by the individual’s biological children, followed by the individual’s parents, who are followed by their grandparents. For the full line of succession, refer to RCW 11.04.015.

Their Reasons for Disclaiming the Inheritance: When considering disclaiming an inheritance, ask yourself why you are doing so. Is it because you do not need the asset but believe that another family could make better use of it? Are you worried that by accepting the inheritance, you will increase the size of your own estate and therefore be subject to larger estate taxes? Does the asset need a lot of upkeep or maintenance that you just do not want to put forth? Or is the piece of property underwater, and by taking it on, you would be taking on a liability and not an asset?

It is important that you understand your motivation behind disclaiming an inheritance, as it is quite possible that by disclaiming your inheritance, you could accidentally achieve the opposite of what you desire.

Consult with a Renton Probate Attorney

At the Law Offices of Dan Kellogg, our Renton probate lawyers can help you determine whether or not disclaiming an inheritance would work for or against you. Many times individuals think that they want to disclaim an inheritance, but after speaking with an experienced estate planning lawyer, realize that doing so would not benefit them or anyone else in the family. Before you make any final decisions, contact our estate planning law firm to consult with Renton probate attorney Dan Kellogg today, 425-227-8700.