It may seem counter-intuitive to ask what to do if you don’t want your inheritance, but there are a few good reasons why someone may wish to disclaim, or assign, an inheritance in lieu of accepting it. Because there are often tax consequences to accepting an inheritance, if you wish to disclaim yours, or assign it to someone else, you need to be sure that you consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure that you follow the proper procedures if you don’t want it.
One reason why an inheritance may not be welcome is if the heir is a recipient of state or federal assistance programs. Often, accepting an inheritance will put the recipient over the resources threshold, meaning that he or she will suddenly be disqualified for the assistance. Unless the inheritance is a truly significant windfall, this can be an unwanted result.
Another reason why you may wish to assign your inheritance to another person is if you know that the other person is the true intended beneficiary. If, for example, the decedent was your brother and you know that he wanted his long-time girlfriend to be provided for upon his death but he never got around to executing a Last Will and Testament. In that case, you may wish to give what was left to you by law to the person you know it was really intended for by assigning it to his girlfriend.
The key is to consult with an estate planning attorney right away to be sure that you disclaim, or assign, your inheritance the right way to avoid any unintended consequences down the road.