I’ve been left a gift in a will but I don’t want it. What can I do?

For various reasons, you might not want to receive an inheritance which has been left to you. Below are the options for refusing a gift, or passing it on to someone else.

Changing a will after someone has died

This can be done by making a “deed of variation”. For guidance on how to change a will after someone has died, click here: Changing a will after someone has passed away

Rejecting / disclaiming your gift

If a variation of the will is not possible you can always simply reject your gift altogether. This is known as disclaiming your inheritance. To do this, write to the person dealing with the estate expressing your wish to refuse your inheritance. You should sign this letter so that the person dealing with the estate has a record of your disclaimer.

What happens to your inheritance after you disclaim it depends on the will’s terms or the intestacy rules. It may pass to another beneficiary named in the will. If there is no will, it will pass to the people entitled under the intestacy rules. You do not have any influence on what happens to this inheritance once you have disclaimed it.

It is not possible to give up only part of your inheritance. For example, if you have been left a gift of £10,000, it is not possible to only accept £5,000 and give up the remaining £5,000. If you wish to do this, you should consider signing a Deed of Variation (see above) instead.

Gifting your inheritance to someone else

You can always choose to receive your inheritance and then gift this to someone else during your lifetime. This is the least advisable option, as there may be tax implications of you giving away your own estate during your lifetime.

Regardless of the option you choose for refusing a gift, it is always advisable to seek legal advice before making a decision.