When a person dies, his inheritance may consist either of an estate composed by assets and/or liabilities.
The difference between the assets and liabilities of the estate is the value of the estate (on which inheritance tax is paid). However, it may also happen that the deceased leaves only debts with no assets and this puts the heirs in a difficult position.
In fact, the acceptance of the inheritance implies that the heir takes over all the obligations of the deceased, with his/her personal assets.
The inheritance can also be declined, by the formal submission, within 10 years of the decease, and such refusal may also be revoked, within the same period of time.
However, should the heirs be aware of the liabilities but not fully aware of their amount, it is possible to accept the inheritance with the benefit of inventory. This allows creditors to seize the inheritance assets with the exclusion of the personal assets of the heir. In this way, the heir is not obliged to pay debts beyond the value of the inheritance.
Creditors may appeal against the refusal of the inheritance if they can prove that the inheritance had sufficient assets to satisfy their claims.
Therefore, in case of debts of the deceased without estate, you should not make the mistake of accepting the inheritance and remembering that acceptance of the inheritance can also be tacit through behaviours that imply someone’s will to accept (e.g. using the machine of the deceased). Since tacit behaviours determine the acceptance of the inheritance and the automatic taking over of the debts of the deceased.