Can you refuse your inheritance?

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2021 | Uncategorized

When you’re writing your will in Illinois, you might suspect that someone might not want the inheritance that you’re about to leave them. You know that it’s in their best interests, but you can see them refusing to take it after you’re gone. Can the law require someone to accept their inheritance?

What happens if someone refuses an inheritance?

Regardless of what you write in your will during the estate planning process, you can’t force someone to take their inheritance. They have the right to decline their inheritance and let it pass on to someone else. However, that doesn’t give the individual control over what happens to the asset.

If someone declines their inheritance, they can’t choose who receives the assets instead. A judge might decide who ultimately gets the assets. Additionally, the beneficiary can’t exchange their inheritance for a different set of assets. They have to accept what you give them, and if they don’t take it, they’re left with nothing.

Part of your estate might have to go through a separate probate proceeding if a beneficiary turns down an inheritance. This can delay the asset distribution process and incur extra fees that your estate will have to pay. If you suspect that an individual might turn down their inheritance, it might be best to leave it to someone who’s more likely to accept it. An estate planning attorney could help you choose a beneficiary and take additional steps to avoid delays.

Do you need to plan your estate?

If you die without an estate plan, your estate will automatically enter probate. A judge will divide up your assets according to state law. This might sound easy enough, but you’ll have no control over who gets your assets after your death. Even if you leave a will behind, your estate might still go through probate if the will is incomplete or not legally binding.