If a beneficiary wants to renounce their inheritance but is married, does their spouse also have to sign the renunciation?

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If a beneficiary wants to renounce their inheritance but is married, does their spouse also have to sign the renunciation?

If a house is owned by a father and niece, as either tenants in common, or joint tenants with no survivorship rights. The father dies with no Will (or no gift of his %of house to the niece). His portion would pass to his living children (spouse predeceased). All children are allowing the niece to keep the home and are renouncing their share.

Asked on January 21, 2015 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

This is an inheritance. It is considered separate property and therefore, your spouse has no legal interest in this gift.  You can renounce.  Now, renunciation of the gift can take many forms so make sure everything is done legally and that you are also not taking any mortgage, either. Deeds and mortgages are two different things.   As to the father and niece, a tenancy at will does leave each with a percentage but a joint tenancy does not create that right for any beneficiaries. A joint tenancy creates an automatic right in her so make sure you know the correct title.


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