November 21, 2015

Surrogate's Court: Renunciations

There are several reasons a person may want to renounce property they inherit. Perhaps they have no need for the piano their deceased uncle left them. Perhaps they would rather the property go to someone else beside themselves. Perhaps they are a high income individual and have no need for additional income or property. Whatever the reason may be for renouncing property, the rules regarding properly/legally renouncing such property are very complex. As such, the information provided below is only intended as a very basic outline of some of the rules, under New York law, on renouncing inherited property.

Under New York law, nearly any inherited property can be renounced if the renouncing party does not want the property intended as an inheritance. In considering whether to renounce or not, it's important to note that a person can renounce all, a portion of or specific items inherited - a renunciation need not be an "all or nothing" decision. In order for the renunciation to be valid under New York law, the following must be done:

     1) The renunciation must be in writing, which writing must be signed, properly acknowledged and filed with the Clerk of the Surrogate's Court having jurisdiction over the deceased person's estate within 9 months of the "effective date of the disposition" (which is typically the deceased person's date of death);

     2) The written renunciation must be accompanied by affidavit of the person renouncing that states that the person renouncing did not receive payment for filing their renunciation; and

     3) A notice of renunciation, which shall include a copy of the renunciation, must be personally served on the Executor or Administrator of the deceased person's estate and a copy of the notice of renunciation, together with a copy of the renunciation itself, shall be served via first class mail upon all people who may receive the renounced property.

A person who renounces an inheritance is treated as if he or she predeceased the decedent, and this treatment of the renouncing party as having predeceased will direct to whom the inheritance is to pass. Note that a party may not accept property and later renounce it - the act of accepting the property makes it so the property is renunciation proof. Also note that once a renunciation is filed, the renunciation is irrevocable - once done, a renunciation cannot be undone.