How can I get out of my duties as a sole heir for someone who died without a Will?

UPDATED: Mar 6, 2013

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How can I get out of my duties as a sole heir for someone who died without a Will?

My son unexpectedly passed. He had no children and was not yet legally married to his partner. He did not name anyone as a beneficiary of his IRA or savings account. That means the responsibilities pass to me, as his sole surviving parent. This is a role I do not want. How do I go about passing this responsibility on to his partner? What forms need to be completed and presented to the probate court and where can I find them? Neither I nor his partner have the funds to have attorney file the required forms.

Asked on March 6, 2013 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss and am sure this leaves you overwhelmed.  However, you cannot resolve this matter by yourself.  You need a lawyer to assist.

You can disclaim your right to inherit your son's assets.  However, if you do so, your son's partner probably will not receive them.  Your state's law will say where your son's assets go and they won't go to his "partner."  They will go to more and more distant blood relatives and, if there are none, they will go to the state.

If your son's IRA and savings account have money in them, then you have money to pay the lawyer.  Use that money to resolve this issue.

Beware about the IRA funds.  If there are any significant funds in that account, you want to avoid liquidating the account, if possible.  If the account is paid in a single lump sum, income tax will be due on the entire amount.  If there is a way for you to take over the account, you can allow it to accumulate in a tax deferred manner according to IRS rules.  Once the account is yours, you can name a beneficiary and could name your son's partner. 

Once you receive the proceeds of your son's estate, you can give it to his partner, but I doubt there is any way for the partner to inherit these funds directly.  Please consult a lawyer to resolve this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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