If someone has left you money, real estate, personal property, an investment, or another kind of property in their Louisiana will, or you are an heir in an intestate succession, you don’t have to accept the inheritance. If property will bring you emotional or financial problems that you don’t want, you can refuse the inheritance. While that may seem odd to others, it’s a situation that’s more common than people might expect, and Louisiana has specific rules for giving up your inheritance.
Common Reasons for Disclaiming an Inheritance
Often, people decide to refuse acceptance of a gift in a will or an intestate inheritance for:
- Personal reasons. Personal relationships are complicated. You may have been estranged from the person whose property you stand to inherit. You may not want to accept any money or property from a specific person, and you have the right to renounce the gift for any reason or no reason at all.
- Financial reasons. You may not want to take on the tax implications of the gift. If you decline or disclaim your inheritance, you never own the property and won’t be responsible for any taxes associated with it. You must renounce your inheritance in a specific way to avoid tax implications, however. For example, your renunciation must be irrevocable, done in writing, and you must not have any say in who becomes the beneficiary.
While Louisiana inheritance renunciations often happen for these reasons, you don’t need to articulate a specific reason for your rejection. If you don’t want the gift, you have the right to refuse it.
How to Refuse an Inheritance in Louisiana
If you do nothing, the court will assume that you accept the property during the succession process. Accordingly, you must follow Louisiana law to refuse your inheritance.
Specifically, you must expressly renounce the inheritance in writing. Louisiana law used to require that the renunciation be done before a notary and two witnesses. While this is no longer necessary, you may discuss whether these formalities are advisable with a succession attorney.
You do not get to direct where the property goes after you refuse it. For example, if you want to ensure that the property goes to your children, you must accept the property and gift it to your children.
Once you renounce your inheritance, the property passes as if you had predeceased the decedent. For intestate estates, the property will pass to the next heir according to the intestacy laws. If the decedent leaves a will, the property will pass according to the terms of the will.
Now Is the Time to Talk to a Louisiana Succession Lawyer
Refusing a gift may have unintended consequences. For example, if a gift is left to you and your siblings and you renounce it, you may think the matter is over. However, if one of your siblings also renounces the inheritance, that property may come back to you.
Sometimes, it may be more beneficial to accept the inheritance. You may decide to keep the property, gift the property to your children, donate the property to a favorite charity, or dispose of the property another way. If you do decide that it is in your best interests to refuse the inheritance, you must do so in a legally binding way that avoids any potential complications.
Our experienced New Orleans succession lawyers are here to help you with all of your probate needs. Each year, we help hundreds of families throughout the state of Louisiana achieve their goals. We can thoroughly review your situation and discuss all of your legal options to meet your intended outcomes.
Contact us today to learn more about how to achieve your goals if you wish to refuse an intestate or testamentary inheritance in Louisiana.