Thanks, but no thanks – I don’t want to inherit

Key point
  • Yes, you can disinherit.


It seems odd that anybody would reject an inheritance, but for some beneficiaries, there are valid reasons they do not wish to receive their inheritance.

The reasons could be relational in nature, perhaps the testator was someone you despised, or perhaps you have amassed wealth beyond imagination and would rather leave the inheritance for your siblings’ benefit.

Other reasons could be financial in nature, such as a taxation liability which comes with the gift.

Sometimes, the gift could be a real doozer – like that time when your uncle gave you a pipe organ as your inheritance, but you had to pay $1000.00 to cover some of the cost of disassembling and removing it from your uncle’s garage (if only your uncle gave you something you could at least sell on Gumtree).

So now that you have decided you do not want your inheritance, here are some points to ensure that you succeed in avoiding the gift:

  • you cannot disclaim the gift prior to the death of the testator[1].
  • you must refuse (disclaim) the gift by deed – in writing and in conduct[2].
  • you cannot disclaim it after you have accepted the gift[3].
  • once you have disclaimed the gift, this cannot be retracted if other parties have changed their position because they relied on your refusal of the gift[4].
  • you can pick and choose which gift you want to disclaim, but this would depend on whether the gifts can be characterised as separate and independent from each other[5].

In a nutshell, you can avoid your uncle’s pipe organ, but must do so in writing by deed and in conduct, and only after his death.

Hicksons can assist you in advising the above in relation to your specific circumstances and in drafting any necessary deeds to document your decision.

Post by Janie Ng and Siew Tong 

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