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How to Refuse an Inheritance

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Inheriting assets or property is often seen as a positive event, but there are circumstances where a beneficiary may wish to refuse an inheritance. Whether due to financial considerations, personal beliefs, or other reasons, individuals in Florida have the option to decline an inheritance. However, refusing an inheritance is not a straightforward process and requires careful consideration and adherence to specific legal procedures. In this blog post, we will explore how to refuse an inheritance in Florida and the potential implications of such a decision.

1. Understanding the Right to Refuse an Inheritance

Under Florida law, beneficiaries have the legal right to disclaim or refuse an inheritance. When a beneficiary disclaims an inheritance, they are essentially renouncing their right to receive the assets or property bequeathed to them. By doing so, the disclaiming beneficiary allows the inheritance to pass to the next eligible recipient, as if they had predeceased the decedent.

2. Eligibility to Disclaim an Inheritance

To disclaim an inheritance in Florida, the beneficiary must meet certain eligibility requirements:

  • The beneficiary must be legally competent: The individual must be of sound mind and legal age (usually 18 years or older) at the time of disclaiming the inheritance.

  • The disclaimer must be in writing: Florida law requires that the disclaimer be in writing and signed by the beneficiary expressing their intention to refuse the inheritance.

  • The disclaimer must be timely: The beneficiary must file the disclaimer within nine months from the date of the decedent's death or within nine months of reaching the age of legal majority, whichever is later.

  • The beneficiary must not have accepted the inheritance: Once a beneficiary accepts any part of the inheritance, they lose the right to disclaim it. Accepting the inheritance can be demonstrated through actions such as receiving assets, cashing checks, or otherwise benefiting from the bequeathed property.

3. Proper Execution of the Disclaimer

To ensure the disclaimer is legally valid, it must contain specific information:

  • A clear statement of intent to disclaim the inheritance.

  • A description of the property or assets being disclaimed.

  • The decedent's name and date of death.

  • The beneficiary's name and relationship to the decedent.

  • The signature of the beneficiary executing the disclaimer.

4. Consequences of Disclaiming an Inheritance

When a beneficiary disclaims an inheritance, they relinquish all rights, title, and interest in the bequeathed assets. The assets will then pass to the next eligible beneficiary in line according to the decedent's estate plan or Florida's intestacy laws if no valid will exists.

It is essential to note that disclaiming an inheritance is an irrevocable decision. Once the disclaimer is filed, it cannot be withdrawn, and the beneficiary cannot change their mind at a later date.

Refusing an inheritance in Florida is a legal right available to beneficiaries under specific circumstances. If you find yourself in a situation where you wish to disclaim an inheritance, it is crucial to follow the proper legal procedures and consult with an estate attorney to ensure compliance with Florida's laws and to understand the potential implications of your decision. By doing so, you can protect your interests and ensure that the inheritance passes to the appropriate alternate beneficiary according to the decedent's wishes or the state's intestacy laws.


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