As a beneficiary do you have to accept a will or trust?

Asked almost 3 years ago - Reno, NV

If you cannot accept, do you have to go through a legal process? Or can you just say no? Does it vary by the amount of money that is being given? Does it change when property is involved?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Frederick D Williams

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9

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    Answered . An expression of intent not to make claim on property left to a person in a will is called a renunciation or disclaimer of interest. Nobody is forced to accept a gift from someone who offers it in a will or trust, but if the will is in probate, or the trust has been challenged before the court, a formal disclaimer must be lodged with the court to make clear that the intended beneficiary does not wish to - or cannot - accept the bequest (or gift).

    Do not wait too long before filing the disclaimer, though. Under Nevada law (NRS 120.030) it is presumed that you have disclaimed within a reasonable time if you file it with the probate court within nine months following the death of the giver of the property. If the property is real estate, the document must have the same dignity and formality as a deed (NRS 120.040) and is recorded in the county where the property is located.

    There are other formal requirements, depending on the kind of property it is. We can help you for a very reasonable cost, if it is necessary for you to file one in Nevada (e.g., if the will is filed here and a probate is opened).

  2. Suzanne Benvenuto Simpson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 7

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    Answered . If you mean must you accept a bequest made for you in a Will or Trust, there are circumstances in which you may "disclaim" the bequest. That may mean that the bequest skips you and passes to your children, or it may mean that the bequest passes to another party instead, it depends on your particular circumstances and what is stated in the Will or Trust. You may have to file a "Disclaimer" document with the probate court where the Will is being probated (even if a Trust is involved) and in some circumstances, there may be a time limit to "disclaim," for example nine months in certain cases when a spouse is "disclaiming" a bequest. Disclaiming a bequest can be complex and raise issues that may not automatically occur to you. For example, an attorney may need to be appointed to determine whether it's in your children's best interest to lose their place in line to receive the bequest if you decide to disclaim. I'd consider talking to an estate planning attorny in Nevada (if that is where the trust/will is being handled) to find out what your options are. Good luck!

  3. Paul A. Smolinski

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . There are not too many people these days who are turning down any type of monetary gift. With that said you must have a good reason to be asking the question.

    The previous attorney gave a very good answer with respect to disclaiming your interest and, generally, you do not have to accept the benefits under a Will or Trust. I do want to add that if the reason that you "can't accept" the funds is due to a bankruptcy or other creditor issue you may want to speak with a Reno attorney to make sure that you are not violating any type of laws relative to the legal matter at issue - if there is one.

    Best Wishes!

  4. Jeffrey A. Marshall

    Contributor Level 9

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Be careful if you are getting getting public benefits (e.g. SSI, or Medicaid long term care benefits). Declining (disclaiming) a bequest from an estate or trust may cause you to lose your benefits. Check with a certified elder law attorney or other attorney in your state who is experienced in public benefit issues if you are in this situation.

    Legal disclaimer: Please note: Jeffrey A. Marshall is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. Nothing in this article is to be taken as legal advice. No communication between Jeffrey A. Marshall and readers of this article is to be inferred to cause an attorney client relationship. If you require legal assistance please contact an attorney who is licensed in your jurisdiction and knowledgeable in the area of law in which you require help.

    Please note, Jeffrey A. Marshall is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania. Nothing in this answer is to be... more
  5. Steven J. Fromm

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Finally, there are tax ramifications if you disclaim. If the disclaimer is not timely effectuated it is not a qualified disclaimer. As a result, you may end up making a gift. You would then have to file a Form 709 gift tax return if the amount exceeded $13,000.

    Hope this helps. Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net . For further tax advice visit his website at www.sjfpc.com . and blog at <>

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia... more

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