For most people, a bequest left in a Will from a loved one is a blessing. It might be a gift of jewellery, some money or even a property.
But, there can be occasions when the receipt of assets is not welcome, especially if they’re going to end up costing you money. What was intended to be gesture of generosity could leave you out of pocket. In such circumstances, don’t feel that you are duty-bound to accept it.
Occasionally, someone who is already comfortably off is left a bequest and they feel it would be better if it went to someone more deserving. This is also possible.
Essentially, there are two routes open to you – a Deed of Variation or a Deed of Disclaimer. Whichever way you choose, you must make your intentions known in writing for tax purposes and execute it within two years of the death.
In simple terms, a disclaimer means that the intended recipient simply walks away from the inheritance, while a variation allows them to have a say in who received the asset.
Other differences are:
• Disclaimer: You have no say where the gift goes; you have to disclaim the whole thing; and if you have already taken part of the bequest, you cannot subsequently disclaim it. As an example, if you have been left £20,000 and have already spent £5,000 on a new car, you cannot disclaim. Additionally, if you have been left £20,000 but want to keep half of it, you can’t.
• Variation: You can decide where the asset goes to and you can even keep part of the asset.
The circumstances surrounding rejecting a bequest can vary greatly and can often be tied in with Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
Because of this, it is important that you seek professional advice. Anything involving tax can be extremely complex and it will pay to talk to someone experienced. If you have any concerns, please contact us.