What if a recipient under a will does not want to accept what the will offers them? When a person who is entitled to take under a will rejects the property offered, the recipient is said to renounce their right under the will. When this occurs, typically the will is executed as though the renunciator had died before the decedent.

Renunciation is a common technique utilized by family members with significant debts in order to keep the estate’s property within the family but away from creditors. If the recipient has creditors who stand ready to make claims on newly available assets, it may be better for that family member to renounce his/her claim to the property and allow that estate property to pass as though the renunciator predeceased the decedent, thus allowing the estate property to pass to another close family member who does not have significant debts.

As an act taken by a will’s recipient it is clear that renunciation is not a concept that is important to understand when drafting a will or planning the distribution of one’s estate. But, renunciation can be an important concept in the execution of a will after the testator’s death and may even be a method of greater usefulness in today’s increasingly indebted society.


Image by: Munir Hamdan