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Can a beneficiary of a will choose to pass or skip the inheritance?

Tracy, CA |

My sister has a will and she put me down as the beneficiary for everything she had. She also stated in the will that if I am deceased then it would be evenly split between my two daughters (her nieces). What I want to know is this: One of my daughters has a lot of medical problems and we don’t have the money for her to get the kind of care that she should be getting. Because of this I would like to skip myself of getting the inheritance and have everything go to her as the beneficiary. Can I choose to pass/skip myself like that? If so, what do I have to do to get it done properly? Do I need a lawyer for that? Please help and thank your for taking the time to read and/or respond to my question. Its truly appreciated

I apologize for not being completely clear in the post. My sister has just passed away. I just found out she had a will. I'm not putting one daughter before the other, my (healthy) daughter wants everything to go to her sister (who's ill) also. Again my apologies for not being clear on her recent passing. Also, Again I Thank all of you for your time and help.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

You can disclaim but why? If your daughter qualifies or could otherwise qualify for government assistance the inheritance would disqualify her. Also, if you disclaim you could not direct the funds all to one daughter. It would go equally to your daughters.

In addition. If you accepted the money, you could simply pay her medical bills. As long as you do so directly to the medical provider such payments would not be gifts.

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There may be other ways to do this including speaking with your sister now. An atty who handles wills and trusts should be able to help if needed.


Based upon your fact pattern, as amended, I'd urge you to meet with an attorney to review this matter and determine your best course of action. For example, you could accept the inheritance and then distribute the funds to your daughters as needed. Or, you could assign your interest to your daughter who does not have aid issues. Without knowing the size of your estate and other issues in connection with your family, it is impossible to say which course of action (or another one altogether?) would be best in your circumstances. Good luck to you.

This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.


I agree with my colleagues and Attorney Shultz's comments are particularly on point. If you can preserve these assets, your daughter may still qualify for benefits and the funds can be maintained to cover whatever the government does not pay.

James Frederick

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