Typically, an heir or beneficiary who has been notified that he or she has an inheritance coming is happy about the money or assets. Of course, the reason why the inheritance is forthcoming is certainly not reason to rejoice, but the inheritance itself is welcome news.
Occasionally though there may be a reason why a beneficiary or heir may wish to disclaim an inheritance or assign the right to the inheritance to another person. If you need to do this, be sure to check with an estate planning attorney about the proper procedure to ensure that the law, and the IRS, consider the inheritance disclaimed or assigned.
Sometimes, an heir or beneficiary who is dependent on state or federal programs such as SSI or Medicaid for assistance decides that disclaiming an inheritance is necessary. Accepting the inheritance can disqualify the individual in the long run for much needed assistance.
Another reason why an heir may wish to assign an inheritance is if he or she wishes to give the assets to the intended beneficiary. For instance, imagine that your mother recently died and you inherited her entire estate because she has no other legal heirs. You know that she wanted her long-time companion to receive some of her estate assets, but she never got around to creating a Last Will and Testament. In this case, you may want to do the right thing an assign those assets to her partner.
In either case, it is crucial that you check with an estate planning attorney to ensure that the disclaimer or assignment is done the right way to avoid a problem down the road.