Everyone loves inheriting money and assets from friends and family members who pass away, right? Not necessarily. From the desire to avoid debt to interfamilial disputes, there are many reasons why heirs would refuse to accept their inheritances. If you're determined to ensure a beneficiary receives the cash or property you want to leave them when you die, here are two things you can do reduce the odds of being rejected.
Anticipate Objections and Provide Solutions
Although it's impossible to predict with 100-percent accuracy who will reject his or her inheritance and why, you can usually get a good sense of why a particular asset may be difficult for someone to accept if you take time to carefully consider the person's situation. For example, it may be hard for someone who is already struggling with debt to accept a home that has a mortgage attached, especially if that home is underwater.
Thus, it's important to consider each of your heirs' situations and try to determine where problems may arise. Then work on building solutions into your estate plan. A person receiving an income-based or asset-based public benefit (e.g., Social Security insurance) may lose that source of income if he or she is suddenly inherits a valuable home, for example, so putting the asset in trust that retains legal ownership of the property is a good way to prevent it from being counted against the individual.
Draw up a list of challenges your heirs may face and then work with an estate or probate attorney to derive solutions.
Name Alternative Heirs
In some cases, an heir will refuse an inheritance regardless of what you do to make it easy for him or her to accept it. If you want to leave someone money or property but you know there's a high probability the individual will reject it, another thing you can do is name an alternate person to receive the asset if the original inheritor rejects it. You can even set up your estate plan so that the asset remains in a trust for a period of time (in case the person changes his or her mind) before the asset is released to the alternate.
For example, if you want to give your son your vacation home but you think he may not want it, you can name your daughter as an alternate inheritor if your son refuses it, or you can name a charity as the beneficiary if none of your kids want the property.
For help resolving these or other issues that may crop up with your estate plan, contact an attorney such as Leon J Teichner & Associates, P.C.