The “laughing heir” (one who inherits property and laughs all the way to the bank because his relation to the deceased is too distant to warrant grief) is a common conceit in television and movies.

A woman opens the mail to find a letter explaining that one of her long-lost relatives has died and, as the relative’s only surviving heir, she has inherited a large sum of money.

If the opportunity arose, most of us would gladly cash a large inheritance check or take title to a beautiful property in Martha’s Vineyard.  Would it ever make sense to disclaim an inheritance?  The answer, like most things legal, is maybe.

In certain circumstances, disclaiming an inheritance might be wise.  For example, real property might be littered with nuclear waste, or be subject to back taxes that greatly exceed the property’s value.

Heirs may also choose to disclaim property for tax reasons.  In some instances, heirs that meet the requirements of a “qualified disclaimer” are treated as if they never owned the property, enabling the property to pass to the disclaiming party’s heirs without a “gift” having been made.

Finally, heirs may wish to disclaim property for personal, moral, or religious reasons.

Disclaimers are irrevocable, so any decision regarding whether to disclaim an inheritance should not be made without legal counsel.  Consult a qualified attorney and/or tax professional before proceeding.

Need advice about disclaiming an inheritance?  Looking for an affordable estate planning attorney in the Cedar Park, Leander, Round Rock, or Georgetown area?  Contact us today.