How can someone who inherits via intestacy relinquish their inheritance?

My mother recently passed away, and her will lists me and my brother as beneficiaries, indicating we should “share and share alike.My father is no longer alive. My brother plans to relinquish his inheritance and have everything go to me. Can we make this happen simply through filing the appropriately worded legal document, or does it end up going to grandchildren because of the intestate succession order?

Asked on August 21, 2014 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  This is a complicated issue that I think you should run past an attorney in your area who is familiar with case law and who can read the Will itself.  There are certain fundamentals in doing this, though, that your brother should know.  First, generally speaking, to be valid a disclaimer must be in writing, be an irrevocable and unqualified refusal to accept an interest in the asset, and must be delivered to the executor within nine months from the date of death. Also, the person signing the disclaimer must not have accepted any part of the asset, or any benefit from the asset, such as rent, dividends or interest, and the person signing the disclaimer cannot direct the interest in the property to another recipient. As for who would get his share, the Will's language would govern.  Is there a contingent beneficiary listed or does the Will state that you are to receive should your brother not inherit (look for words like "per capita" or "per stirpes" maybe). Good luck.

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