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Reasons Why A Beneficiary Might Want to Reject a Gift

Who wouldn’t want to receive a letter saying a distant relative has recently passed away and left you a large inheritance? Although most of us would treasure such a letter, some people would rather disclaim or reject a bequest or devise. In a nutshell, many factors affect how people respond to gifts from others.                                                                                                               

Here are some of the reasons why some individuals will do whatever it takes to avoid profiting from someone else’s demise.                                                                        

Possible Explanations for Turning Down an Inheritance

  • Real property left to an individual might require major expenditures prior to sale. If a testator tries to pass on title to land that’s partially covered by an abandoned landfill or overrun with toxic waste, the new  owner might be legally required to spend a fortune making improvements on the land prior to selling it;

  • Current and future property tax burdens. No one wants to pay exorbitant taxes on land each year, especially when it hasn’t been fully developed. Furthermore, there might even be back taxes owing on the land;

  • Estate taxes. Your Georgia probate attorney can readily to you all of the about the various estate taxes you may have to pay if you accept gifts of cash, stock or real property;

  • A shareholder’s agreement may actually prevent your inheritance. Although most savvy testators would try to avoid this type of problem, you may not fit the description of someone allowed to own a specific stock;

  • You may be so deep in debt that accepting the gift might leave you with nothing. If you’re struggling to get caught up with numerous bills and back debt, you may not want to hire someone to help you liquidate the assets so you can pay your creditors, especially when there probably won’t be any money left for you;

  • You may have serious doubts as to whether the testator owns lawful title to the property. Of course, if you have such questions, you can hire an attorney who can research this topic before advising you to file a disclaimer;

  • You may simply not want to accept a gift from the person who died due to your relationship with that individual. If you’re independently wealthy or financially comfortable, you may feel too emotionally burdened to accept a gift from a specific person. If that’s the case, you might see if they are tax-free ways you can transfer all of the funds to an educational or charitable group that’s in dire need of assistance.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia