Though it isn’t a very common situation, there may come a time when you may want to transfer inheritances to someone else. When you receive an inheritance from someone, or stand to receive an inheritance, you are not legally obligated to accept it. In fact, in some situations, it might be in your best interest to transfer your inheritance rights to another person.
Of course, determining when you can transfer inheritance rights, and what the best way to go about doing it is, is something that you should talk to your estate planning attorney about in detail before you make any final decisions. Choosing to waive or transfer any inheritances is a significant decision that you should only make after receiving legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
When a person dies without leaving behind an estate plan, that person dies intestate, and leave behind an intestate estate. Intestate estates get transferred to the decedent’s closest living relatives in accordance with the intestate succession laws of the state in which that person lived. In other words, if you should die without a will or other estate planning device, your closest living relatives will usually inherit your property.
But what if the deceased person didn’t want his or her closest living relatives to receive an inheritance? Take, for example, a situation where a person lives with someone else, but the two are not married. Even if they had been in a committed, loving relationship for years, or even decades, the law does not recognize a non-married partner’s ability to inherit from someone who dies intestate. In this situation, the closest living relative would receive an inheritance, and not the deceased person’s partner.
However, if you are someone who stands to receive an inheritance from someone who dies intestate in this kind of situation, you can choose to assign your inheritance rights to the romantic partner. In other words, to preserve the deceased relative’s wishes, you can allow the partner who should have received an inheritance to do so by transferring your own inheritance rights to that person.
Inheritance Powers of Appointment
In other situations where someone stands to receive an inheritance, that person also receives the right to transfer his or her inheritance benefits to someone else. This type of situation most commonly arises when the deceased person left behind inheritances through a revocable living trust. If the trust gave the beneficiaries a “power of appointment,” those beneficiaries can transfer their inheritance rights to others of their choice. The exact way in which you do this will depend upon the terms of the trust and the kinds of power the trust gives, so you should talk to us if you need more advice about this kind of situation, or any situation in which you are considering transferring inheritance rights.