Can I decline my inheritance?

If you are a beneficiary who does not want a gift left to you in the Will then you have the option to “disclaim” or “renounce” the gift. Your reason for doing so could be anything from personal beliefs to potential tax liability consequences, Centrelink or pension eligibility or even the inconvenience of collecting an item left to them.

However, if you intend to do so it is important that you obtain the appropriate advice to ensure that you are properly informed as to the process and consequences of doing so.

If you are an Executor who has been told by a beneficiary that they do no want to receive their inheritance, then you should also obtain the appropriate advice so you may consider the following legal points prior to discharging your duties as Executor:-

  1. Has the testator (the person who has made the Will) yet died? A beneficiary cannot reject a or disclaim a gift before the testator has died.
  1. Has the beneficiary already received the gift? The beneficiary cannot reject or disclaim the gift after they have already accepted it.
  1. Has a Deed or Affidavit of unconditional disclaimer been prepared and executed in front of a witness or lawyer? This is essential to explicitly state their intention and ensure they cannot revoke or change their mind.
  1. Is a Deed of Family Arrangement required? By agreement of all the beneficiaries it may be their wishes to redistribute the renounced gift to an individual beneficiary or shared, though legal advice should be obtained prior to proceeding.
  1. Was the Will executed in a foreign country? If so, the beneficiary needs to confirm their right to refuse the gift in accordance with that country’s legislation.

Overall, there are several reasons and ways in which an inheritance can be declined or renounced, and the common theme is that a beneficiary or executor should start by seeking legal advice to avoid being responsible for any potential consequences.

Family Focus Legal have experienced Wills & Estate Lawyers who can assist you with navigating this specific issue. Reach out to our friendly team today on (02) 4655 4224 to arrange an initial consultation.

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