Skip to content

Can You Decline an Inheritance in Tennessee?

Can You Decline an Inheritance in Tennessee? Inheriting assets can be a bittersweet experience, but what if the prospect of accepting an inheritance doesn’t align with your circumstances or preferences? While it may seem counterintuitive to some people to reject an inheritance, the answer is, generally, yes. This is known as “disclaiming” or “renouncing” an inheritance.

There are a variety of motivations that can drive this decision, such as a desire to avoid potential financial obligations or tax implications associated with the inherited assets. In particular, inheriting complex assets such as a portion of a family business or a piece of property, can bring both opportunities and challenges. For instance, managing a share in a family business entails understanding corporate structures, contractual obligations, and tax obligations. Similarly, dealing with inherited property necessitates knowledge of real estate laws and potential zoning issues.

Whether an heir accepts or declines assets of this nature, they will need professional legal guidance to navigate the process effectively. It’s also important to consider what will happen to specific assets that have been disclaimed, such as being sold or distributed to alternative beneficiaries. Our Chattanooga probate attorneys can help you at every step.

Formalizing your inheritance disclaimer

Disclaiming all or part of an inheritance should be done in writing. The disclaimer should describe exactly which assets you’re refusing and be signed by you or someone who can make decisions for you (like a legal representative). It has to be a clear and final decision – you can’t reverse the disclaimer later. It’s important to notify the executor of your decision to disclaim the inheritance. Additionally, you should submit the disclaimer to the probate court or the relevant legal authority overseeing the estate.

Parties involved in the inheritance process

For those contemplating the possibility of rejecting an inheritance, it is important to distinguish between a few relevant terms. These terms refer to different parties involved in the inheritance process:

  • Heir: A person who is entitled to inherit property under the laws of intestacy (when a person dies without a valid will).
  • Beneficiary: Someone named in a will or trust to receive specific assets or benefits.
  • Devisee: Someone who receives real property (land or buildings) through a will.
  • Legatee: Someone who receives personal property (items other than real estate) through a will.

While all four of these parties reserve the right to accept or reject all or a portion of the assets they’ve inherited, the process may differ slightly among them.

Access to a will before someone dies in Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are stringent legal limitations in place to safeguard the confidentiality of a person’s will. The law upholds the principle that a will is a private document, and any attempt to gain unauthorized access to it before the testator’s death is generally prohibited. This serves to respect the testator’s autonomy and ensure the integrity of their final wishes.

While a person may discuss their will with anyone they choose to, copies of a will may not be obtained until the person’s passing. This means that potential beneficiaries, heirs, or any other interested parties must wait until the proper legal procedures, such as probate, are initiated.

Who gets copies of the will after a person dies?

After a person passes away, the responsibility of managing their estate falls upon the appointed executor. The executor is tasked with carrying out the instructions outlined in the will, which includes notification to all interested parties and the distribution of assets to the designated beneficiaries.

The individuals who can typically obtain copies of the will include beneficiaries, heirs, devisees, legatees, creditors, and any other individuals or entities with a legitimate interest in the estate, such as legal representatives or guardians. It is also important to note that, once the probate process is initiated, the will becomes part of the public record. This transparency serves to provide assurance that the estate is being handled in a fair and lawful manner, and allows concerned parties to verify that the distribution of assets aligns with the testator’s intentions as stated in the will.

Are you considering disclaiming all or part of an inheritance? The experienced team at Wagner Workers Compensation & Personal Injury Lawyers can be your guide. Our dedicated probate attorneys possess a deep understanding of inheritance laws and can help you explore your legal options, taking into account all of the financial and legal implications unique to your situation. Submit our contact form today to set up your confidential consultation. We proudly serve Chattanooga, Cleveland, and the surrounding regions.