Can I decline an inheritance and give it to my wife instead?

Asked over 1 year ago - New Brunswick, NJ

I will undoubtedly inherit assets and property when my mother passes away . Am I allowed to refuse to accept the inheritance myself but permit my wife to claim it in my place ? Total value of estate about 500k to be shared by four siblings .

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Pierson W. Backes

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    Contributor Level 8

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    Answered . I agree with my colleague. It might be clarifying to think of it this way: if you disclaim (that is, refuse) your inheritance, the law treats the estate as though you had predeceased your mother. If your are able to talk candidly with your mother about her Will, she could make provision to allow you to disclaim and have your wife take in your place.

    I'll also mention that, if the purpose of your disclaimer is to preserve government benefits or to avoid debts owed by you but not your wife, you should review the matter with an attorney closely. In certain circumstances, a disclaimed inheritance has the same effect as if you had accepted the inheritance.

    This answer is based on general legal principles only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. This... more
  2. Steven M Zelinger

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    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . The answers provided are excellent - your wishes are more likely to be carried out by accepting the inheritance and gifting to your wife. Gifting to a spouse is almost a non-issue from a tax perspective. Disclaiming under the law will almost certainly lead to the assets going to someone other than your wife.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is... more
  3. Joseph Michael Pankowski Jr

    Contributor Level 18

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If you refuse to accept the inheritance by a disclaimer, then it is highly likely to go to other family members either via the terms of your mother's Will or by the laws of intestacy. In short, it is very rare to see a disclaimer result in the transfer of the inheritance to the beneficiary's wife.

    In most clients' circumstances, the best thing to do is to accept the inheritance, then gift it to your wife. After your mother passes away, you will wish to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine the best method of making the transfer. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor... more
  4. Nicholas Anthony Giuditta III

    Contributor Level 7

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If you have children and disclaim the inheritance passes to your children. If you have no kids or grandkids a disclaimer would likely result in the inheritance passing to your siblings. A disclaimer is a technical legal term that will NOT result in your wife inheriting. If you want your wife to receive the money then accept the inheritance and gift it to her which does not result in any tax liability for you or her.

    The answers by Nicholas Giuditta of the Law Office of Nicholas Giuditta provided in the Avvo website are for... more

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