San Antonio, TX asked in Probate for Pennsylvania

Q: Am I able to disclaim an inheritance?

My mother lived in Pennsylvania and recently passed. I live in Texas, and I am unable to go to Pennsylvania. Me and my fiance do not have the money to make the trip. We are also out of paid vacation time for the year, and it would create financial hardship for us.

Someone told me that I could disclaim the inheritance, but companies may still expect me to pay her remaining bills. Is this true?

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1 Lawyer Answer
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Boyertown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: Yes, you can disclaim your inheritance. There are time limits. Usually, a disclaimer is done for tax reasons.

You should have no need to attend any court hearings in PA if you are only a named beneficiary in the decedent's Last Will. However, if you are named as the Executor, an appearance in probate court here to be sworn in will be required.

If you have not been a joint obligor on any of the decedent's debts, your mom's creditors cannot look to you and your personal assets to pay her debts. Any bona fide creditors of your mom's can, however, seek payment from your mother's estate for any such claims. It is standard for an executor to wait one year from date of first publication of notice of appointment as executor/probate of will to allow creditors to file claims against the Estate.

If the Estate is insolvent, e.g., has more debts than asset value, you really don't need to do anything (unless you are the executor).

Speak with an experienced attorney authorized to practice in PA about your options and the contents of the Estate before you disclaim your interests.

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