Tempe, AZ asked in Estate Planning for Arizona

Q: Is a person obligated to accept property left in another's will?

My mother-in-law and my husband (her son, of course) have a very strained relationship, which recently came to a tipping point, thus forcing my husband to sever their relationship. He is the only known beneficiary of his mother's (very small) "estate". Is he obligated, by Arizona law, to accept the items left to him in her will? After many discussions, my husband and I determined the best course of action is to, somehow, decline any and all items potentially being left in his name upon her death. Is this possible? If so, how is such a thing accomplished?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Marcus N. Seiter
Marcus N. Seiter
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Tempe, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: No, a beneficiary is not obligated under Arizona law to accept items left to him/her in a will. And, yes, it is possible to disclaim an inheritance. However, one cannot disclaim a gift or inheritance until the gift or transfer is actually attempted. In the case of inheritance, this is only after the person attempting the gift dies. I recommend that, upon the death of your mother-in-law, you and your husband speak to an attorney about your options. On a more personal note, this wait-and-see approach also keeps the door open between your husband and his mother in case they ever make amends. Good luck.

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