Most estate plans are created at least in part to protect heirs (generally spouses and children) from the sometimes devastating blow of estate taxes; but with all the recent changes to estate tax law, some plans that were drafted years ago and never updated by their creators won’t work as intended anymore—and heirs may end up looking for a way to protect themselves against the unintended consequences of these well-intentioned estate plans. This is a subject that we have touched on before on our blog, but is worth mentioning again as we close in on 2013.

This article in the New York Times explains what it means if you disclaim (or turn down) an inheritance, and when you may want to employ this tactic.

“Historically, lawyers have recommended disclaimers to repair estate planning oversights that bring negative tax consequences — as when parents left money to already affluent adult children. In such a case, the children could disclaim, so the inheritance would go their own children instead, rather than facing the possibility that this money might be taxed in their own estates.”

Although this is an interesting solution to be considered in some cases, there are no easy answers to the question of what to do when you are the beneficiary of an estate that has taken an unexpected turn. If you have any questions whatsoever about an inheritance—or about your own estate plan—call your estate planning attorney for help.