Lawyer Discussing Inheritance PaperworkNot every inheritance is like what you see in the movies. Ohioans don’t typically inherit millions of dollars, grand estates, and priceless jewels. We are much more likely to inherit a modest family home, an empty lot, or an old car. While these bequests might be a welcome bonus for some, others might find the inheritance to be a burden and want to avoid getting it altogether. Is that possible? Yes, but it will take more than a verbal refusal in Probate court.

Why Would You Want to Disclaim an Inheritance?

Sometimes it’s simply a matter of avoiding more “stuff.” The estate might have no sentimental value to you, or your garage is full, your closets are stuffed, and you just don’t need more property to take care of. Other times, however, an inheritance can actually cost you money you don’t have to throw away. Examples of situations where you might want to disclaim an inheritance include:

  • Repairs. If a house is run-down and in need of costly repairs before you can sell it, you might be better off never taking possession. The same is true for an old vehicle—if it’s no better than the car you have and you can’t sell it for a profit, why would you want it?
  • Taxes. A house or plot of land will have property taxes associated with it. You might even own back taxes as soon as you take possession. If the property is not valuable to begin with, you could be at a loss after paying taxes. If you can’t get rid of the property, you will be on the hook for property taxes for years.
  • Eligibility for benefits. If the heir is receiving government benefits—for example, Medicaid is paying for a nursing home, or they are an adult with special needs—an inheritance could jeopardize their eligibility. This is a common reason for disclaiming an inheritance.
  • Emotional reasons. If the decedent did not have a will and you are the next of kin, you might have no emotional attachment to the estate. Or, there could be a painful emotional connection to the deceased or to the property. Avoiding emotional suffering is a legitimate reason to disclaim an inheritance.

Knowing you don’t want to inherit is just the first step. You might then want to talk to an attorney to help you with the next steps.

How to Disclaim an Inheritance in Ohio

You can’t simply say, “No, thank you,” when you are named in a will. Instead, we recommend that—with the help of an attorney—you take these steps:

  • Understand the will. If you refuse your portion of an inheritance, it will pass on to someone else according to the decedent’s will. Before making a decision, make sure you understand what you have been left and where it will go if you disclaim it.
  • Be certain. It is essential that you understand what you are giving up and that you are sure about your decision. You cannot disclaim only part of an inheritance, so if you are supposed to get money and property, and you disclaim the property, you will also give up the money. Once you have disclaimed an inheritance, you cannot change your mind. You also have no say in who inherits in your place.
  • Disclaim the inheritance in writing. You must file a written disclaimer with the probate court and give a copy to the estate executor before the estate is settled. If you are disclaiming real estate, you must also file a copy with the county where the property is located.

Our team can help you with this process.

Our Probate and Real Estate Attorney Can Help

If you have strong feelings about refusing an inheritance—particularly if it is real estate property—talk to an attorney who handles both probate proceedings and real estate litigation. At Littlejohn Law, we are uniquely poised to assist you when an impending inheritance will be a costly burden. Reach out to our office in Steubenville today.


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