Often, thinking of the word inheritance, one finds oneself imagining the reception of goods, furniture, and properties, released spontaneously and voluntarily by a dear deceased. In fact, the heirs in many cases together with the estate also inherit the debts of the deceased with the risk of having to face expenses out of their own pockets.
The law, however, leaves the freedom to choose whether or not to accept the inheritance, provided that this decision takes place within, and no later than, the three months following the death. After this period of time, anyone who owns the property of the deceased at the time of death is considered heir (family members who lived with the extinct person and those who have at their disposal even a single object, albeit of minimal value).
Why make an inheritance waiver within three months?
The law imposing such a rapid choice (after death a quarter is a very short period in relation to such an important decision) prevents any illegitimate heirs from enjoying the benefits of the assets without assuming formal responsibilities, including any debts incurred in the life of the deceased.
The condition has repeatedly occurred that, in the face of a large amount of debts, even higher than the value of the inherited assets, the direct heirs have renounced the inheritance of the debts.
This is a solemn act and must be carried out through an express declaration issued by the heir or his representative, in the presence of legal authority:
- Registrar of the court where the succession was opened and where the declaration will be entered in a succession register
Deciding whether to accept an inheritance is convenient or not is a very delicate matter. Generally, the deceased’s assets are known (real estate, pension, current account) but the amount of debts is not always as enthusiastic as the value of the assets.
In the event that it is decided to renounce the inheritance of debts, the “called” cannot:
- partially renounce inheritance
- give up the inheritance before the relative dies
- revoke the waiver
These rules still apply to those who, at the time of death, is in possession of inherited assets (spouse and children who live in the same home), for everyone else there is no hurry. The renunciation must be made within 10 years from the opening of the succession, in case of non-declaration of renunciation, the right to inheritance is lost.
Acceptance with inventory benefit is the most appropriate solution if you are undecided on whether or not to accept an inheritance, as this tool allows you to pay debts only within the value of the hereditary assets, without confusing your assets with that of the deceased. In this case, whoever carries out the inheritance inventory, must issue a declaration of accepted acceptance or of renunciation within 40 days, in case of non-declaration is considered an heir.
What happens after the renunciation?
In the event of an inheritance waiver declaration, a new heir must be found. The law, in this regard, indicates two possibilities. The first involves checking for the presence of a substitute indicated in the will.
The second refers to the mechanism of representation, whereby the inheritance is offered to the descendants of those who have renounced. These, in turn, can legitimately decide to renounce the inheritance.
However, when the representation fails to be conclusive, the law provides for the increase in the hereditary share of the renunciate in favor of the other heirs (only if more heirs have been designated and at least one of them has accepted the inheritance).
Alternatively, the heir is identified according to the rules of legitimate succession, which provides for a series of possible solutions, from the closest relatives to the most distant. In the absence of any successors, the inheritance is attributed to the State, which in any case will pay the debts only within the value of the hereditary patrimony.
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