Definition: Disclaimer

When determining who you would like to leave assets to, keep in mind that the named beneficiary may disclaim — that is, refuse to accept — his or her interest in the gift that you have left to him or her. Sometimes the beneficiary does not want the gift, would prefer the gift go to someone else, or does not want to incur tax liability because of the transfer.

The beneficiary (or his or her agent) may disclaim a gift in whole or in part. If the beneficiary is a minor, a person under guardianship, or deceased, then his or her legal representative may disclaim the interest if it would be in the beneficiary’s best interest, in the best interest of the beneficiary’s estate, or those who would take the beneficiary’s interest (the beneficiary’s beneficiaries).

To make a valid disclaimer, the disclaiming beneficiary (or his or her agent) must follow very specific steps provided in the disclaimer statute.1 A person making a disclaimer should only do so with a complete understanding of the effects of the disclaimer. We strongly recommend that you contact an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction for advice and assistance if you wish to make a disclaimer.