Acceptance with benefit of inventory

Acceptance with benefit of inventory
Published on: 17 March 2023

Table of contents

Acceptance with benefit of inventory is one of the concepts that raises the most doubts regarding the collection of inheritances. But what exactly is it and how does it work? Below, we will explain all the details related to this concept.

What happens when we are called to an inheritance?

The first thing to do is to clarify that, when we are called to an inheritance, we are not only in a position to receive its assets, but also its debts. This means that, on many occasions, the heirs may be reluctant to accept the inheritance, in which case they have three options:

  • Repudiate the inheritance. In other words, to express to the notary by means of a public deed that they refuse to receive the deceased's assets and debts.
  • Deliberation. The right of deliberation gives the heirs time to consider whether or not it is in their interest to receive the inheritance. However, they must also inform the notary of this in a notarial deed.

The remaining option is, of course, to accept the inheritance. This can be done purely and simply, in which case the heirs back any inherited debts with their own personal assets. However, they can also do so with the benefit of an inventory.

Inheritance with benefit of inventory: what is it?

Acceptance of inheritance with benefit of inventory is regulated in articles 1010-1034 of the Civil Code. What this means is that the heirs accept the debts of the deceased, but only up to the extent of the inherited estate. Therefore, unlike in the previous case, they are not liable for them with their own assets.

It should be noted that, when the right to deliberate is requested, it is possible to ask for an inventory to be drawn up without this entailing the obligation to accept the inheritance. It is very important to state this explicitly to the notary, as otherwise it may be assumed that the inheritance has been accepted directly.

How is the inventory drawn up?

Once the declaration has been made to the notary, a period of 30 calendar days begins during which the legatees and creditors of the deceased will be summoned. The information they provide will be fundamental in order to draw up an inventory which will include:

  • The deceased's assets.
  • Their rights.
  • The obligations (debts) associated with the inheritance.)

In addition, an economic valuation of all these aspects will be added. Once the information has been provided, the notary will have 60 calendar days to draw up the inventory. Therefore, the process can take a maximum of 90 days. However, in the case of a particularly complex inheritance, it is possible to extend the period by up to one year.

Deadlines for acceptance for the benefit of the inventory

Once the inventory has been drawn up, the notary will contact the heirs and set a deadline for them to proceed with their acceptance, either purely and simply or for their benefit.

This is unless the heirs are already in possession of all or part of the inheritance, in which case the deadline is set at 30 calendar days. The same applies in the opposite case, i.e. where they are not in possession of any assets.

At this point, we must emphasise that the right to accept the inheritance with benefit of inventory may be lost. Specifically, this happens if:

  • Assets, rights or shares of the deceased are not consciously included.
  • Inheritance assets are sold prior to meeting the obligations to creditors and legatees.
  • The price obtained from the sale is not used to pay credits and/or legacies.
  • If the inventory is not completed within the maximum time limits stipulated by law.

What are the costs of accepting an inheritance with benefit of inventory?

Accepting an inheritance with benefit of inventory does not entail any additional costs. In other words, it is a decision that the heirs are free to take. However, the notary who draws up the document will charge a certain fee, which the heirs will have to pay in equal shares.

However, the fact of accepting an inheritance with benefit of inventory does not affect the deadline for payment of inheritance tax, which is 6 months, extendable up to another 6 months after the death of the deceased.

But what happens if the right to deliberate was requested and the taking of the inventory takes longer than expected? In this case, the heirs will have to pay inheritance tax even if they finally decide to reject the inheritance. However, after the decision has been taken, they will have the possibility to ask for a refund of the inheritance tax.

In short, accepting an inheritance with benefit of inventory is the smartest option when it comes to protecting the heir's assets against possible debts. However, in order to make the right decision when the time comes, it is advisable to seek the advice of a lawyer specialising in inheritances. Their advice will be key in order to act in the best possible way.

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