California Disclaimer of Property Interests Law


Wills and Estates – Disclaimer of Property Interest – California

A beneficiary may disclaim any interest, in whole or in part, by filing a disclaimer as provided in this part. Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §275.

A disclaimer on behalf of a conservatee shall be made by the conservator of the estate of the conservatee pursuant to a court order obtained under Article 10 (commencing with Section 2580) of Chapter 6 of Part 4 of Division 4 authorizing or requiring the conservator to execute and file the disclaimer.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §276.

(a) A disclaimer on behalf of a minor shall be made by the guardian of the estate of the minor if one has been appointed or, if none has been appointed, by a guardian ad litem of the minor. A disclaimer by a guardian is not effective unless made pursuant to a court order obtained under this section.

(b) A disclaimer on behalf of a decedent shall be made by the personal representative of the decedent. Except as provided in Part 6 (commencing with Section 10400) of Division 7, a disclaimer by a guardian or personal representative is not effective unless made pursuant to a court order obtained under this section.

(c) A petition for an order authorizing or requiring a guardian or personal representative to execute and file a disclaimer shall be filed in the superior court in the county in which the estate of the minor or decedent is administered or, if there is no administration, the superior court in any county in which administration would be proper. The petition may be filed by the guardian, personal representative, or other interested person.

(d) The petition shall:

(1) Identify the creator of the interest.
(2) Describe the interest to be disclaimed.
(3) State the extent of the disclaimer.
(4) Identify the person or persons the petitioner believes would take the interest in the event of the disclaimer.

(e) Notice of the hearing on the petition shall be given as follows:

(1) If the petition is for an order authorizing or requiring the guardian of the estate of a minor to execute and file the disclaimer, notice of the hearing on the petition shall be given for the periodand in the manner provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 1460) of Part 1 of Division 4 to all of the persons required to be given notice under that chapter.
(2) If the petition is for an order authorizing or requiring the personal representative of a decedent to execute and file the disclaimer, notice of the hearing on the petition shall be given as provided in Section 1220.
(3) If the petition is for an order authorizing or requiring a guardian ad litem of a minor to execute and file the disclaimer, notice of the hearing on the petition shall be given to the persons and in the manner that the court shall by order direct.

(f) After hearing, the court in its discretion may make an order authorizing or requiring the guardian or personal representative to execute and file the disclaimer if the court determines, taking into consideration all of the relevant circumstances, that the minor or decedent as a prudent person would disclaim the interest if he or she had the capacity to do so.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §277.

The disclaimer shall be in writing, shall be signed by the disclaimant, and shall:

(a) Identify the creator of the interest.

(b) Describe the interest to be disclaimed.

(c) State the disclaimer and the extent of the disclaimer.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §278.

(a) A disclaimer to be effective shall be filed within a reasonable time after the person able to disclaim acquires knowledge of the interest.

(b) In the case of any of the following interests, a disclaimer is conclusively presumed to have been filed within a reasonable time if it is filed within nine months after the death of the creator of the interest or within nine months after the interest becomes indefeasibly vested, whichever occurs later:

(1) An interest created under a will.
(2) An interest created by intestate succession.
(3) An interest created pursuant to the exercise or nonexercise of a testamentary power of appointment.
(4) An interest created by surviving the death of a depositor of a Totten trust account or P.O.D. account.
(5) An interest created under a life insurance or annuity contract.
(6) An interest created by surviving the death of another joint tenant.
(7) An interest created under an employee benefit plan.
(8) An interest created under an individual retirement account, annuity, or bond.

(c) In the case of an interest created by a living trust, an interest created by the exercise of a presently exercisable power of appointment, an outright inter vivos gift, a power of appointment, or an interest created or increased by succession to a disclaimed interest, a disclaimer is conclusively presumed to have been filed within a reasonable time if it is filed within nine months after whichever of the following times occurs latest:

(1) The time of the creation of the trust, the exercise of the power of appointment, the making of the gift, the creation of the power of appointment, or the disclaimer of the disclaimed property.
(2) The time the first knowledge of the interest is acquired by the person able to disclaim.
(3) The time the interest becomes indefeasibly vested.

(d) In case of an interest not described in subdivision (b) or (c), a disclaimer is conclusively presumed to have been filed within a reasonable time if it is filed within nine months after whichever of the following times occurs later:

(1) The time the first knowledge of the interest is acquired by the person able to disclaim.
(2) The time the interest becomes indefeasibly vested.

(e) In the case of a future estate, a disclaimer is conclusively presumed to have been filed within a reasonable time if it is filed within whichever of the following times occurs later:

(1) Nine months after the time the interest becomes an estate in possession.
(2) The time specified in subdivision (b), (c), or (d), whichever is applicable.

(f) If the disclaimer is not filed within the time provided in subdivision (b), (c), (d), or (e), the disclaimant has the burden of establishing that the disclaimer was filed within a reasonable time after the disclaimant acquired knowledge of the interest.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §279.

(a) A disclaimer shall be filed with any of the following:

(1) The superior court in the county in which the estate of the decedent is administered or, if there is no administration of the decedent’s estate, the superior court in any county in which administration of the estate of the decedent would be proper.
(2) The trustee, personal representative, other fiduciary, or person responsible for distributing the interest to the beneficiary.
(3) Any other person having custody or possession of or legal title to the interest.
(4) The creator of the interest.

(b) If a disclaimer made pursuant to this part affects real property or an obligation secured by real property and the disclaimer is acknowledged and proved in like manner as a grant of real property, the disclaimer may be recorded in like manner and with like effect as a grant of real property, and all statutory provisions relating to the recordation or nonrecordation of conveyances of real property and to the effect thereof apply to the disclaimer with like effect, without regard to the date when the disclaimer was filed pursuant to subdivision (a). Failure to file a disclaimer pursuant to subdivision (a) which is recorded pursuant to this subdivision does not affect the validity of any transaction with respect to the real property or the obligation secured thereby, and the general laws on recording and its effect govern any such transaction.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §280.

A disclaimer, when effective, is irrevocable and binding upon the beneficiary and all persons claiming by, through, or under the beneficiary, including creditors of the beneficiary.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §281.

(a) Unless the creator of the interest provides for a specific disposition of the interest in the event of a disclaimer, the interest disclaimed shall descend, go, be distributed, or continue to be held (1) as to a present interest, as if the disclaimant had predeceased the creator of the interest or (2) as to a future interest, as if the disclaimant had died before the event determining that the taker of the interest had become finally ascertained and the taker’s interest indefeasibly vested. A disclaimer relates back for all purposes to the date of the death of the creator of the disclaimed interest or the determinative event, as the case may be.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), where the disclaimer is filed on or after January 1, 1985:

(1) The beneficiary is not treated as having predeceased the decedent for the purpose of determining the generation at which the division of the estate is to be made under Part 6 (commencing with Section 240) or other provision of a will, trust, or other instrument.
(2) The beneficiary of a disclaimed interest is not treated as having predeceased the decedent for the purpose of applying subdivision (d) of Section 6409 or subdivision (b) of Section 6410.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §282.

A disclaimer is not a fraudulent transfer by the beneficiary under Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 3439) of Title 2 of Part 2 of Division 4 of the Civil Code. Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §283.

A person who could file a disclaimer under this part may instead file a written waiver of the right to disclaim. The waiver shall specify the interest to which the waiver applies. Upon being filed as provided in Section 280, the waiver is irrevocable and is binding upon the beneficiary and all persons claiming by, through, or under the beneficiary.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §284.

(a) A disclaimer may not be made after the beneficiary has accepted the interest sought to be disclaimed.

(b) For the purpose of this section, a beneficiary has accepted an interest if any of the following occurs before a disclaimer is filed with respect to that interest:

(1) The beneficiary, or someone acting on behalf of the beneficiary, makes a voluntary assignment, conveyance, encumbrance, pledge, or transfer of the interest or part thereof, or contracts to do so; provided, however, that a beneficiary will not have accepted an interest if the beneficiary makes a gratuitous conveyance or transfer of the beneficiary’s entire interest in property to the person or persons who would have received the property had the beneficiary made an otherwise qualified disclaimer pursuant to this part.
(2) The beneficiary, or someone acting on behalf of the beneficiary, executes a written waiver under Section 284 of the right to disclaim the interest.
(3) The beneficiary, or someone acting on behalf of the beneficiary, accepts the interest or part thereof or benefit thereunder.
(4) The interest or part thereof is sold at a judicial sale.

(c) An acceptance does not preclude a beneficiary from thereafter disclaiming all or part of an interest if both of the following requirements are met:

(1) The beneficiary became entitled to the interest because another person disclaimed an interest.
(2) The beneficiary or other person acting on behalf of the beneficiary at the time of the acceptance had no knowledge of the interest to which the beneficiary so became entitled.

(d) The acceptance by a joint tenant of the joint tenancy interest created when the joint tenancy is created is not an acceptance by the joint tenant of the interest created when the joint tenant survives the death of another joint tenant.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §285.

The right to disclaim exists regardless of any limitation imposed on the interest of a beneficiary in the nature of an expressed or implied spendthrift provision or similar restriction. Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §286.

An interest created before January 1, 1984, that has not been accepted may be disclaimed after December 31, 1983, in the manner provided in this part, but no interest that arose before January 1, 1984, in a person other than the beneficiary may be destroyed or diminished by any action of the disclaimant taken pursuant to this part.

Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §287.

This part does not limit or abridge any right a person may have under any other law to assign, convey, or release any property or interest, but after December 31, 1983, an interest that would otherwise be taken by a beneficiary may be declined, refused, renounced, or disclaimed only as provided in this part. Div. 2, Part 8, Chap. 2, §288.