2021 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 45 - Uniform Probate Code
Article 2 - Intestate Succession and Wills
Part 11 - PROPERTY INTERESTS
Section 45-2-1113 - When disclaimer barred or limited.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 45-2-1113 (2021)

A. A disclaimer is barred by a written waiver of the right to disclaim.

B. A disclaimer of an interest in property is barred if any of the following events occur before the disclaimer becomes effective:

(1) the disclaimant accepts the interest sought to be disclaimed;

(2) the disclaimant voluntarily assigns, conveys, encumbers, pledges or transfers the interest sought to be disclaimed or contracts to do so; or

(3) a judicial sale of the interest sought to be disclaimed occurs.

C. A disclaimer, in whole or part, of the future exercise of a power held in a fiduciary capacity is not barred by its previous exercise.

D. A disclaimer, in whole or part, of the future exercise of a power not held in a fiduciary capacity is not barred by its previous exercise unless the power is exercisable in favor of the disclaimant.

E. A disclaimer is barred or limited if so provided by law other than the Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act.

F. A disclaimer of a power over property that is barred by this section is ineffective. A disclaimer of an interest in property that is barred by this section takes effect as a transfer of the interest disclaimed to the persons who would have taken the interest under the Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act had the disclaimer not been barred.

History: Laws 2001, ch. 290, § 13; 1978 Comp., § 46-10-13 recompiled as § 45-2-1113 by Laws 2011, ch. 124, § 101.

ANNOTATIONS

Recompilations. — Laws 2011, ch. 124, § 101 recompiled former 46-10-13 NMSA 1978 as 45-2-1113 NMSA 1978, effective January 1, 2012.

COMMENT

The 1978 Act required that an effective disclaimer be made within nine months of the event giving rise to the right to disclaim (e.g., nine months from the death of the decedent or donee of a power or the vesting of a future interest). The nine month period corresponded in some situations with the Internal Revenue Code provisions governing qualified tax disclaimers. Under the common law an effective disclaimer had to be made only within a "reasonable" time.

This Act specifically rejects a time requirement for making a disclaimer. Recognizing that disclaimers are used for purposes other than tax planning, a disclaimer can be made effectively under the Act so long as the disclaimant is not barred from disclaiming the property or interest or has not waived the right to disclaim. Persons seeking to make tax qualified disclaimers will continue to have to conform to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.

The events resulting in a bar to the right to disclaim set forth in this section are similar to those found in the 1978 Acts and former Section 2-801. Subsection (a) provides that a written waiver of the right to disclaim is effective to bar a disclaimer. Such a waiver might be sought, for example, by a creditor who wishes to make sure that property acquired in the future will be available to satisfy the debt.

Whether particular actions by the disclaimant amount to accepting the interest sought to be disclaimed within the meaning of subsection (b)(1) will necessarily be determined by the courts based upon the particular facts. (See Leipham v. Adams, 77 Wash. App. 827, 894 P.2d 576 (1995); Matter of Will of Hall, 318 S.C. 188, 456 S.E.2d 439 (Ct. App. 1995); Jordan v. Trower, 208 Ga. App. 552, 431 S.E.2d 160 (1993); Matter of Gates, 189 A.D.2d 427, 595 N.Y.S.2d 194 (3d Dept. 1993); "What Constitutes or Establishes Beneficiary's Acceptance or Renunciation of Devise or Bequest," 93 ALR2d 8).

The addition in this Act of the word "voluntary" to the list of actions barring a disclaimer which also appears in the earlier Acts reflects the numerous cases holding that only actions by the disclaimant taken after the right to disclaim has arisen will act as a bar. (See Troy v. Hart, 116 Md. App. 468, 697 A.2d 113 (1997), Estate of Opatz, 554 N.W.2d 813 (N.D. 1996), Frances Slocum Bank v. Martin, 666 N.E.2d 411 (Ind. App. 1996), Brown v. Momar, Inc., 201 Ga. App. 542, 411 S.E.2d 718 (1991), Tompkins State Bank v. Niles, 127 Ill.2d 209, 130 Ill. Dec. 207, 537 N.E.2d 274 (1989).) An existing lien, therefore, will not prevent a disclaimer, although the disclaimant's actions before the right to disclaim arises may work an estoppel. See Hale v. Bardouh, 975 S.W.2d 419 (Tex. Ct. App. 1998). With regard to joint property, the event giving rise to the right to disclaim is the death of a joint holder, not the creation of the joint interest and any benefit received during the deceased joint tenant's life is ignored.

The reference to judicial sale in subsection (b) (3) continues a provision from the earlier Acts and ensures that title gained from a judicial sale by a personal representative will not be clouded by a possible disclaimer.

Subsection (c) rephrases the rules of Section 2-1111 [45-2-1111 NMSA 1978] governing the effect of disclaimers of powers.

Subsection (d) is applicable to powers which can be disclaimed under Section 2-1109 [45-2-1109 NMSA 1978]. It bars the disclaimer of a general power of appointment once it has been exercised. A general power of appointment allows the holder to take the property subject to the power for him or herself, whether outright or by using it to pay his or her creditors (for estate and gift tax purposes, a general power is one that allows the holder to appoint to himself, his estate, his creditors, or the creditors of his estate). The power is presently exercisable if the holder need not wait to some time or for some event to occur before exercising the power. If the holder has exercised such a power, it can no longer be disclaimed.

Subsection (e), unlike the 1978 Act, specifies that "other law" may bar the right to disclaim. Some States, including Minnesota (M.S.A. § 525.532 (c) (6)), Massachusetts (Mass. Gen. Law c. 191A, §8), and Florida (Fla. Stat. §732.801(6)), bar a disclaimer by an insolvent disclaimant. In others a disclaimer by an insolvent debtor is treated as a fraudulent "transfer". See Stein v. Brown, 18 Ohio St. 3d 305 (1985); Pennington v. Bigham, 512 So.2d 1344 (Ala. 1987). A number of States refuse to recognize a disclaimer used to qualify the disclaimant for Medicaid or other public assistance. These decisions often rely on the definition of "transfer" in the federal Medical Assistance Handbook which includes a "waiver" of the right to receive an inheritance (see 42 U.S.C.A. §1396p(e) (1)). See Hinschberger v. Griggs County Social Services, 499 N.W.2d 876 (N.D. 1993); Department of Income Maintenance v. Watts, 211 Conn. 323 (1989), Matter of Keuning, 190 A.D.2d 1033, 593 N.Y.S.2d 653 (4th Dept. 1993), and Matter of Molloy, 214 A.D.2d 171, 631 N.Y.S.2d 910 (2nd Dept. 1995), Troy v. Hart, 116 Md. App. 468, 697 A.2d 113 (1997), Tannler v. Wisconsin Dept. of Health & Social Services, 211 Wis. 2d 179, 564 N.W.2d 735 (1997); but see, Estate of Kirk, 591 N.W.2d 630 (Iowa, 1999) (valid disclaimer by executor of surviving spouse who was Medicaid beneficiary prevents recovery by Medicaid authorities). It is also likely that state policies will begin to address the question of disclaimers of real property on which an environmental hazard is located in order to avoid saddling the State, as title holder of last resort, with the resulting liability, although the need for fiduciaries to disclaim property subject to environmental liability has probably been diminished by the 1996 amendments to CERCLA by the Asset Conservation Act of 1996 (PL 104-208). These larger policy issues are not addressed in this Act and must, therefore, continue to be addressed by the various States. On the federal level, the United States Supreme Court has held that valid disclaimer does not defeat a federal tax lien levied under IRC §6321, Dyre, Jr. v. United States, 528 U.S. 49, 120 S. Ct. 474 (1999).

Subsection (f) provides a rule stating what happens if an attempt is made to disclaim a power or property interest whose disclaimer is barred by this section. A disclaimer of a power is ineffective, but the attempted disclaimer of the property interest, although invalid as a disclaimer, will operate as a transfer of the disclaimed property interest to the person or persons who would have taken the interest had the disclaimer not been barred. This provision removes the ambiguity that would otherwise be caused by an ineffective refusal to accept property. Whoever has control of the property will know to whom to deliver it and the person attempting the disclaimer will bear any transfer tax consequences.

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