Drye v. U.S.
528 U.S. 49 (1999).

Facts:
Irma Deliah Drye died intestate, leaving her son, Rohn F. Drye Jr., as the sole heir to her $233,000 estate. Prior to his mother’s death, Drye ran up an unpaid $325,000 tax bill, prompting the IRS to file tax liens against all of Drye’s “property and rights to property.”

  • To keep his mother’s estate away from the IRS, Drye disclaimed his interest, which allowed the entire estate to pass to his daughter, Theresa, who was next in line under the applicable state intestacy statute.
  • Theresa then set up a trust under which appellant was a beneficiary.

Issue:
Whether a disclaimer is effective to pass property and keep the estate away from the IRS.

Holding:
No.

Reasoning:

  • The disclaiming heir inevitably exercises dominion over the property – he determines who will receive the property (himself of he doesn’t disclaim, or a known other if he does).
  • The control rein he holds renders the inheritance ‘property and rights to property,’ thus falling within the meaning of the IRS code.