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California Probate, Will & Trust Lawyer > Blog > Probate > Giving Up Your Inheritance: Disclaimer

Giving Up Your Inheritance: Disclaimer


If you are a beneficiary under someone’s Will or due for inheritance under California’s intestate succession laws, you may wonder if you have the option of declining the inheritance. The good news is that the state of California allows beneficiaries to give up their right to inheritance. However, the legal requirements of giving up inheritance in California can be complicated. That is why, if you are considering refusing your inheritance, you should retain the services of a skilled attorney.

Disclaiming an Inheritance

When you find out someone has left you an inheritance, you can refuse to accept the inheritance. When you refuse an inheritance, that is known as a “disclaimer.” If you disclaim your interest in an inheritance, you will be treated as never having owned the inheritance for state law purposes. Generally, after you disclaim an inheritance in California, it will be as if you “predeceased” the deceased person that left you the inheritance.

There are many reasons why people disclaim their inheritance. For example, you can disclaim your inheritance to reduce the size of your estate. If you feel worried about estate taxes, it could make sense to disclaim an inheritance rather than take it and risk paying estate taxes on it when you die. However, before you disclaim your inheritance because you feel worried about estate taxes, you should find out about the federal estate tax exemption. For the year 2022, the federal estate tax exemption is $12.06 million.

Another example is where you refuse to take an inheritance so that it goes to another beneficiary, for example, a child or grandchild. You could also disclaim an inheritance if you have a lot of debts. A valid disclaimer can prevent creditors from claiming the property subject to the disclaimer.

The Process of Disclaiming an Inheritance in California

Firstly, according to the California Probate Code, a disclaimer must be in writing for it to be valid. The disclaimant must also sign the disclaimer and;

  • Identify the person who created the interest
  • Describe the interest that is being disclaimed
  • State the disclaimer and its extent

Secondly, for a disclaimer to be valid, it must be filed within a reasonable time after the individual to disclaim learns about the interest. In the case of an interest created under a Will and an interest created by intestate succession, you generally have nine months to file a disclaimer.

Thirdly, according to the law, a disclaimer can be filed with a personal representative, trustee, or another fiduciary or person responsible for distributing the interest to the beneficiary.

Lastly, according to the law, after you finalize a disclaimer, you cannot reverse it. After a disclaimer has been deemed effective, it is binding upon the beneficiary and all people claiming by, under, or through the beneficiary, including the beneficiary’s creditors.

Contact The Probate Guy

If you want to make a disclaimer, it is crucial that you allow a professional to help you. As you’ve seen, there are legal restrictions on disclaiming an inheritance. Also, if you try to handle things on your own, you may create problems for yourself, the estate, and the other people involved.

If you need help with disclaiming an inheritance in California, contact the dedicated California probate attorney, Robert L. Cohen – The Probate Guy- to schedule a telephonic consultation.


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I love being a probate attorney. I love helping people through a very difficult time in their lives with the probate process. My practice focuses solely on probate matters. My job is to complete the probate process as efficiently and painlessly for my clients as possible. I have found that paying the upfront costs of probate adds unneeded stress, so I will advance all of the fees and costs for the probate. No money is required to complete the probate. I will be reimbursed at the end of the case when you receive your inheritance. Call me NOW to discuss your case for free.

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