What are my rights and obligations as an heir?

As an heir, you can personally determine what to do with an inheritance (estate). You may reject it, accept it ‘as is’ or accept it as a beneficiary. Rejection means you waive any right or entitlement to both the revenue and expenses (debt) of the estate. In that event you will not receive anything, but you are also not liable for any debts or expenses.

Accepting an estate as is means that you accept both the ensuing revenue and expenses. It means all assets and liabilities are now yours. For heirs under the age of 18, acceptance of an estate in this way is not possible by law. Please remember that certain actions (such as, in some cases, selling goods that are part of the estate) may constitute acceptance as is.

Beneficiary acceptance means your own funds and assets are safe. Your income or wealth cannot be claimed by any creditors of the deceased. Any sums payable from the deceased’s estate will be paid only if the estate has sufficient funds. Such acceptance as a beneficiary only is generally a preferred option if the heir suspects that the liabilities exceed the assets.

Heirs who do not reject will have to jointly accept responsibility for settlement of the inheritance in order to divide the estate.

An executor, if appointed by will and testament, is responsible for settlement of the inheritance. The executor first prepares a description of the assets and goods, pays any sums payable and debts, and divides the remainder. The executor is responsible for further settlement and the heirs must make their claims to the executor.

 

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