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Sometimes it is better to refuse an inheritance

From the moment an inheritance opens, an heir has time to reflect on whether or not to accept the inheritance. If this period varies according to the situation, one thing is certain: it is better to take advantage of this period to study the question well …

Because all the heirs are solidary of the debts of the deceased, says the law. “Even if the estate seems beneficial, you must always take the time to take an inventory of the assets before accepting or renouncing”, advises Nathalie Couzigou-Suhas, notary in Paris.

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In theory, an heir has ten years to make a decision; if he does not do so, he will be considered to have renounced the succession. Be careful, however, this period can be much shorter if other beneficiaries or if creditors force him to make a choice beforehand, which they can do as soon as the estate has been open for at least four months. In this case, the heir has two additional months to make up his mind; if he does not do so in time, he will be considered to have accepted the estate.

In practice, when a person is named heir, three options arise.

The first, and the most frequently chosen, consists of accepting the succession and receiving both the assets and debts which compose it.

“Skip” a generation

In case of doubt about the liabilities (tax arrears, imprecise real estate estimates, property abroad, etc.), another possibility is to accept the succession only “up to the amount of your net assets”.

“This consists in collecting the latter only if the debts do not exceed the value of the inheritance”, explains Nathalie Couzigou-Suhas. To formalize this choice, a declaration must be made to the district court of the deceased’s domicile (Cerfa n ° 15455 * 03) or mandate a notary to do so. A detailed inventory of the assets and debts of the estate will be carried out by an expert.

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Third option: refuse the succession. It is, of course, recommended if the deceased transmits more debts (mortgage loans, consumer loans, reimbursable social assistance, etc.) than goods. “By renouncing the inheritance, you therefore receive nothing, but, in return, you have no debt to pay off with your own heritage”, specifies Marie Monmarché, notary in Joué-lès-Tours, member of the Monassier Group.

You must then fill out a form (Cerfa n ° 15828 * 04) and send it, with the supporting documents requested, to the court of the deceased’s domicile or appoint a notary.

Be careful, in case of renunciation, the inheritance goes to your children. ” The latter must therefore do the same to avoid having to settle debts and so on, until the family branch is extinguished. », Warns Mme Monmarché. If they are minors, the family court judge must give his consent.

If you plan to renounce the inheritance, do not dispose of the deceased’s property, for example by selling their car or emptying their home: you would be considered to have accepted the inheritance.

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It is also possible to renounce a beneficiary succession for the benefit of your own children. With the increase in life expectancy, households inherit more and later: the average age was 42 years in 1984, it was 50 years thirty years later, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.

However, since 2007, the law allows to “skip a generation”, therefore to renounce a succession for the benefit of his descendants. ” In this case, the latter are considered as heirs but the share they receive is taxed as if it came from their parent. », Adds Marie Montmarché.

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Concretely, your children benefit from the global tax deduction of 100,000 euros which you would have benefited as an heir, instead of being satisfied with the allowance of 1,594 euros usually reserved for grandchildren.

But be careful, for this you must give up your entire share and the abatement must be shared equally among all your children.