In Virginia, you have the right to disclaim any property or estate that you don’t wish to inherit.
Being named the beneficiary in a will or estate plan does not bind you to your inheritance.
Disclaiming in Virginia Law
The Code of Virginia specifies that as the beneficiary, you are able to disclaim part or all of the estate you inherit.
Disclaiming property and interest of the inheritance is done in several legal steps.
However, there are important things to know before you file.
Filing as a Beneficiary
According to the Virginia Code, you have nine months to file your disclaimer.
The nine month term begins from the date of the death of the estate holder. For minors inheriting property, this term ends nine months after the 21st birthday.
Your written disclaimer of your inheritance must be filed in the court of the deceased’s residency.
In other words, you must file with the court that is overseeing the estate.
A copy of your disclaimer must be provided to the executor or administrator of the estate, unless you are the executor.
Another copy of the disclaimer must be sent to each clerk of each jurisdiction in which the property being inherited is owned.
This information is found on each deed to the property assets.
Filing as a Joint Tenant
As a joint tenant, you have the ability to disclaim part or all of your inherited interest.
The interest you disclaim is returned to the estate of the deceased and is redistributed as the will or law dictates.
However, your disclaimer as a joint tenant dissolves your right of survivorship pertaining to your deceased tenancy partner’s interest.
Additionally, you are able to disclaim the entire joint tenancy, and all interest therein, if you are not the originating party of the joint tenancy agreement.
In other words: if your partner dies, and that partner is the one who founded the agreement, you have the ability to disclaim.
This is useful in situations where the partnership is too costly for a single party to manage.
It also offers you an out, as the surviving tenant, to exit the agreement due to the passing of your tenancy partner.
By disclaiming partially or entirely, you are forfeiting your present and future interest in the property being disclaimed.
Effects of Disclaimers
A disclaimer is a legal contract in which you are forfeiting all rights to your inheritance.
You are disclaiming all present and future interest to the inheritance.
Once you have successfully filed with the courts, you no longer have any legal rights to the property.
Disclaimed property is redistributed following the terms of the will, if any alternate beneficiaries are named to follow you.
If no alternate beneficiaries exist, the property is reabsorbed by the estate for redistribution to the remaining beneficiaries.
Virginia Disclaimer Restrictions
When you decide to disclaim your inheritance in Virginia, there are rules you must follow.
If you have inherited property and you are in the process of disclaiming it, you cannot transfer the property.
Filing your disclaimer is proving your disinterest in that property and its interest.
By transferring the property, you are accepting the inheritance, and you are gifting it to another party.
Rather than transferring property you don’t want to inherit, your disclaimer prevents the property from transferring ownership to you from the estate.
You have no rights to the property or to the transfer of the property.
If you disclaim your Virginia inheritance by signing a waiver, you will automatically be disclaimed from receiving the property.
Accepting the interest of the property you are attempting to disclaim automatically prohibits you from disclaiming the property.
Once you have accepted interest on the property of your inheritance, you become the new owner unless otherwise stated in the estate documents.
Therefore, you are accepting all responsibility of the property you are inheriting, interest included.
By selling or in any way changing the ownership of the property, you are automatically prohibited from disclaiming.
You cannot disclaim property that you have accepted interest from, or have benefitted from in any way prior to disclaiming it.
You have the opportunity to disclaim some of a Virginia inheritance, however your disclaimer of partial inheritance bars you from rights to that property.
The property is then redistributed or absorbed by the estate.
Generally, the inheritance of property or an estate is accepted by the beneficiaries of that estate.
However, it isn’t always a wise choice.
If accepting an inheritance risks financial instability, or you simply have no interest in the property you’re inheriting, schedule your consultation with our estate planning attorney to discuss your options.