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The inheritance: how to protect yourself from the debts of a relative

When a loved one dies, the juridical relations with his family don’t cease but they are transmitted by inheritance.  According to the law, all the heirs, who take over the deceased’s asset, become owners of it. The heirs will acquire the assets and the rights and they will have the same legal role as the deceased.

The inheritance can be an advantage also, it could be a disadvantage.

The inheritance could hide terrible surprises …

By acquiring the entire deceased’s asset, the heirs must take responsibility for its passive relationships (obligations and debts) contracted and not yet extinguished.

If the debts were large, unpleasant disputes may arise among the heirs. Probably, they would try not to pay or to put costs on someone else.

If the arguments arise when it comes to credits (a division of real estate or passages of money), the situation gets worse especially when it comes to debts.

What does the law say about the division of debts?

Debts excluded from inheritance

Like credits, not all debts fall in succession. This happens because some debts are extinguished with the death of the subject to which they were charged.

Deceased’s debt: we must not accept the inheritance

When the deceased leaves only debts, the first mistake not to commit is to accept the inheritance. By accepting the inheritance, the debts would take over all the obligations and the heirs would suffer the attachment of the creditors, risking to lose even their own assets (like the house or the current account).

The benefit of the Inventory

If the deceased left small assets and the heirs don’t want to waste it, they can accept the inheritance with the benefit of the inventory. Creditors will be able to foreclose only the assets that have fallen in succession and not the personal assets of the heirs.

 Be careful:  prevent the acceptance of the inheritance tacitly.

For example, the heirs can’t withdraw from the deceased’s account, use his car, sell his goods, use them (even if of little value) or continue to live in his apartment. Consequently, the law will take these actions as a normal acceptance of the inheritance and the heirs will take over the deceased’s debts with no intending. To pay a creditor with your own money (and not with the deceased’s one) or to pay the funeral expenses, it’s not considered acceptance of the inheritance.

What happens to debts if no one accepts the inheritance?

The creditors won’t be paid by anyone if all the heirs give up the inheritance. Both the government (in the person of the Revenue Collection Agency) and the other creditors can’t do anything against the heirs. In this case, the creditors could challenge the inheritance renunciation of the heirs but they should demonstrate that there were sufficient assets in the succession to satisfy them. Also, the law says that, within five years of the inheritance renunciation, the heirs’ creditors can foreclose the assets of which they would become owners through the inheritance renunciation.



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