Inheritance of debts

After the death of a close person, the heirs are often in a dilemma whether they will inherit the debts that the testator had, and whether they should accept the inheritances or not. The legacy mass often, in addition to real estate (houses, apartments, land), movables (eg cars and money), also consists of debts (either to banks, mostly on the basis of credit agreements, debts to individuals and legal entities, debts for unpaid bills and other liabilities).


The Law on Inheritance clearly states that each heir is liable for the debts of the testator up to the amount of the inherited property. Therefore, you cannot be charged for debts in excess of the total value of inherited rights. Accordingly, in cases where the reported debts of the testator in the probate procedure are significantly higher than the property of the heir, economic calculation would lead you to give up the inheritance. Of course, all this is negligible if there are emotional reasons and motives for wanting the decedent’s property to become your property, even at the cost of paying the decedent’s much higher debt.


It is also important to point out that the statement on renunciation of inheritance cannot be given in part. In addition, if you renounce the inheritance in favor of a particular heir (the most common case of renunciation in favor of the mother, father, brother, sister or children), such an inheritance statement is considered acceptance with the simultaneous assignment of the inheritance.


Serbian Law on Inheritance specifically regulates the issue of liability for the debts of necessary heirs. Namely, the necessary heir inherits the necessary part, ie. the part in which the testator could not dispose of the will. Therefore, as the goal of the existence of the right to the necessary part is that a certain value of the testator’s property passes to the necessary heirs, regardless of the existence of the will, they are not responsible for the debts of the testator up to the required inheritance.


Therefore, the fact that in a certain probate procedure it turns out that there are larger debts of the testator, it is necessary to first see the value of the total inherited property, ie rights, and only then to make a decision on whether to accept as heir property or you will give a negative inheritance statement. In this regard, it is especially important to point out that not attending the scheduled hearing to discuss the inheritance to which you were invited as heir and, therefore, not giving a statement to accept or renounce the inheritance, is considered as accepting the inheritance. For this reason, it is very important that, if you know that the debts of the testator are greater than the rights you acquire, appear at the hearing and renounce the inheritance or, if you are prevented from attending the hearing, send a negative inheritance statement to the competent court or notary public. depending on which body conducts the procedure of arguing the inheritance (probate procedure.)