Can You Disclaim An Inheritance In Florida?
Robert and Caroline’s father, Russell, owned a dilapidated, albeit beachfront property in Tampa Bay. It was not his primary residence, and Russell had always hoped to fix it and rely on the property for passive rental income. As age caught up with him, he never got around to it, and the house fell into disrepair, so badly that it was nearly condemned by Hillsborough County officials. Now that Russell has passed away, Robert and Caroline have learned that he left the property to them (to be shared) in his will. Neither child wants to take possession of the home given its current condition and the cost of fixing it, and Russell left them with no other assets to speak of. Can Robert and Caroline disclaim their inheritance?
Disclaiming Real Property
Disclaiming real property is a complicated process in all states, but especially in Florida. Readers are strongly advised to consult an experienced estate law attorney before making decisions regarding real estate because of tax considerations. If the decedent had no will, it is not necessary to formally disclaim an interest in real property. If there was a will, the disclaimer must be in writing. Fla. Stat. 739. 601 (2020). A legal description of the real property is necessary to give constructive notice to others researching the history of the real property and should be filed with the clerk of court in the county where the real property stands. Often when an interested party disclaims inheritance, it simply passes on to the next interested party in succession. If an interested party is the only surviving heir, they could disclaim the property or transfer title to a charitable organization or allow the property to escheat to the State of Florida.
How to File a Valid Disclaimer
To file a valid disclaimer, the beneficiary must file it in writing, titling the notice as a disclaimer of real property, and describe the property in sufficient detail. Orally disclaiming an interest, even if in the presence of the testator(person drafting the will) is not sufficient. The written disclaimer must be signed, witnessed and acknowledged and filed with the probate court and the department of land records with the county of jurisdiction. The person attempting to disclaim the interest or property does not need to file the disclaimer with a probate court or receive express permission from a probate judge if the instrument(a trust vehicle perhaps) stated that the person or fiduciary had express permission to disclaim the item being contested. Florida Statute 739.104 also states that an adult parent can disclaim an interest in real or personal property on behalf of their minor children.
Contact the Tampa Probate & Estate Lawyers at Strategic Counsel Law Group
Discussing your estate planning with your beneficiaries, namely, your adult children can be beneficial, even if it seems awkward. Doing so can prevent a possible disclaimer long after the deceased has passed. If you are curious about the disclaimer process or need strategies for discussing estate and legacy planning with your family, contact our Tampa probate attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group.