Under certain situations, a beneficiary of a deceased person’s estate may wish NOT to receive the inheritance that was left to them. By law, they can “disclaim” all or part of the inheritance and thereby not receive what the decedent left them.
Accomplishing this is done through what is called a “qualified disclaimer.” The designation of the disclaimer as being “qualified” means that for legal purposes, the inheritance is not deemed to have been received by the beneficiary. In other words, the beneficiary is treated as if the devise, or gift, was never given to the beneficiary. So for example, in connection with the IRS, if there is a qualified disclaimer of an asset, the IRS considers it as if the beneficiary never received it.
In order to be considered a qualified disclaimer, there are several criteria which must be met. First, the disclaimer must be irrevocable–it cannot be changed or reversed. Second, the disclaimer must be in writing and must be delivered to the right person. Third, the person making the disclaimer must not have accepted the benefit of the item which is being disclaimed. Finally, the disclaimer must be made within the later of the date of the event leading to the interest being disclaimed or the date the beneficiary turns age 21.
Complying with the requirements to make a qualified disclaimer can be tricky. Representation by an experienced estate lawyer is almost always advisable.