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Debts in an inheritance

An inheritance can also consist of debts, so it is certainly not always a positive story. What can you do then?

Sometimes an inheritance contains more debts than assets. This could be because of hospital expenses, retirement home costs, unpaid television and gas or electricity bills, for example.

If you are an heir, you have to choose whether to accept the inheritance or not. You are certainly not obliged to accept an inheritance. If the inheritance contains many debts, you are usually well advised not to accept the inheritance. This is then called "rejection".

Are you still in doubt? Then you can accept the inheritance "by way of inventory", as it is called. In that case, you accept the inheritance under certain conditions, so that you only have to pay debts in proportion to the assets you inherit. Specifically, this means that the debts of the inheritance are paid with the deceased's assets. If there are any possessions left after that, you inherit them. If there are no assets left and there are still debts, you inherit nothing but the creditors cannot appeal to you to pay the debts either.

Do I need a lawyer?

A lawyer has the necessary knowledge and experience to answer your questions about the debts of an inheritance (e.g. perhaps certain debts are disputed) and to advise you on how best to deal with that inheritance (e.g. accept it under the privilege of inventory or reject it). The latter will then also advise you on what steps to take.

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