How not to inherit debts in the will left in the will?On October 21, 2019 by David Swanson
You can inherit not only the estate, but also the obligations of the testator. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary stress and financial problems, it is good to know the applicable regulations. Who inherits debts? How to avoid taking over unwanted debt? When is the limitation period for inheritance debts?
Inheritance proceedings conducted in Poland have repeatedly ended with heirs with unfavorable decisions. They happened especially before October 18, 2015, i.e. at a time when regulations shortening the simple inheritance of debts did not yet apply. At that time, every heir who, within 6 months of the testator’s death or of finding out about the inheritance, did not make a statement in court or before a notary public regarding inheritance, somehow automatically took over any property liabilities of the deceased. In this case, to avoid financial liability, he could only count on limitation of inheritance debts. The current regulations are already on the side of the heirs and effectively prevent this type of situation. After all, it’s definitely worth knowing what regulations apply in the event of the death of a relative.
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The testator’s will decides who inherits the debts and property, and if it has not been drawn up – the provisions of the Act. Regardless of which option you are referring to, within 6 months of the testator’s death or knowledge of the succession, the heir may take a position on his inheritance. By making an appropriate declaration, you may decline: accept it in full, purchase it with the benefit of an inventory, or reject it in its entirety.
The most risky is accepting the estate as a whole, because in such a situation the heir is responsible for any obligations of the testator with all his property. If it turns out that their size exceeds the value of the inherited property, he will have to pay them back partly from his own resources – unless the inheritance debts are barred and in accordance with the law he will be able to refuse to fulfill the claim.
If the heir knows that he has inherited primarily debts, he should accept the inheritance with the benefit of inventory or reject it in full. He should also opt for one of these solutions when he is not fully aware of the deceased’s financial standing and is afraid of hidden debt. No matter which option he chooses, he will effectively avoid liability for the testator’s debts.
Liability for inheritance debts
It is worth noting that accepting the inheritance with the benefit of inventory, as opposed to rejecting the whole inheritance, ends the inheritance proceeding. By the way, it is also the most profitable from the point of view of the heir: in the worst case, “will not do business”, and if the assets will be greater than debt, he will gain a financial benefit.
Rejection of the inheritance in its entirety means that the heir does not inherit from the deceased either the property or its possible obligations. In this way, it will avoid taking over debts, but at the same time will make the testator’s creditors be able to assert their claims against further heirs. If, for example, an heir who is a child of the testator renounces the inheritance with debt, then his descendant or a distant relative may legally inherit. Only accepting an inheritance with the benefit of inventory will definitely end the inheritance proceeding.
It is worth knowing that the inheritance debts, in addition to those incurred by the testator before his death, also include liabilities arising from death and the costs associated with administering the estate. Heirs may be charged with the costs of funeral, compliance with the testator’s orders and orders, or court proceedings (fee for examining a will or bailiff’s inventory).
Limitation of credit for the deceased
Debts to banks and loan companies usually turn out to be the biggest problem. They are primarily due to the fact that potential heirs cannot verify the actual debt of the deceased. Banks are subject to banking secrecy, and the law only indicates individual situations in which this type of information can be obtained. In practice, the heir can only know the type and amount of liabilities left if he presents the bank with valid documents confirming the acquisition of the inheritance.
Inherited loans often amount to relatively small amounts of several hundred or several thousand dollars, but it happens that the testator leaves a commitment of several thousand. An heir who takes over such debt must reckon with the fact that sooner or later a creditor will come to him and demand payment. However, if the bank delays it too long, the loan may be time-barred for the deceased.
It should be remembered that the bank, when performing actions aimed at enforcing the receivables, may interrupt the limitation period for inheritance debt. This will be the case, for example, when he files a lawsuit for payment or an application for enforcement of a bailiff. This effect will also be caused by the heir’s admission of the debt (e.g. by requesting a postponement of the repayment date).
Limitation of claims against heirs
Limitation periods for bank succession debts occur after 3 years, but if the case goes to court and the claim is confirmed by a judgment, this period will be extended by another 6 years. By the way, this longer six-year period applies to any court order for payment, irrespective of what type of claim was involved.
It should be remembered that with the death of the testator, all his rights and property obligations are transferred to the heirs. These may not only be bank obligations, but also towards individuals, the Social Insurance Institution or a housing cooperative. Importantly, the limitation period for claims against heirs may vary and depends on the type of claim.
It is worth mentioning that while limitation of limitation is not possible (the right to it does not involve any legal act), the heir itself may lose some rights after some time. The most important of these is the possibility of making a decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of the inheritance that he is entitled to for a period of six months. In addition, if he is entitled to a reserved portion, he has 5 years to submit his claims from the date of the announcement of the will or the opening of the estate.