How to Accept an Estate
– Step 1: Accept the estate to the extent of the net assets
– Step 2: Take an inventory
– Step 3: Wait for the next step
As an heir (also called a legatee), if you think your legator (the person leaving the estate) may have incurred debts that exceed the estate’s value, you can accept the estate for the net assets. This means you cannot be responsible for the legator’s debts beyond the total value of the property received.
The heir has 10 years to make the decision. If he does not make an option within this period, he is considered to have renounced the estate.
Important: if you do not make an option, you are considered to have accepted the estate “outright”. This will make you responsible for the legator’s debts. If these debts exceed the value of the inheritance received, you, as the legatee, will have to pay the creditors out of your own money.
1. Accept the estate up to the net assets
Go to the judicial court
You have 4 months after the date of death to choose how to accept your estate.
Necessary: 4 months after the death, a co-heir or a creditor can, by bailiff’s act, require the heir who does not accept to make his decision. This heir then has 2 months (unless extended by the court) to comply. If he fails to respond within this new two-month period, he is considered to have accepted the will outright.
Consult the last address of the legator
– Go to the court of law where the deceased’s last domicile is located.
– To do so, consult the death certificate and the court map.
Declare your acceptance to the judicial court
As an heir:
– Go to the clerk of the judicial court.
– Ask to declare an estate up to the net assets. You will be given a filing receipt.
Publish your declaration
Then make your declaration of acceptance known to potential creditors: legal counsel
– publish an announcement in the official bulletin of civil and commercial announcements.
– This publication will be made by the judicial court where you declare.
Important: within one month of the declaration, you must also insert a notice in a medium authorized to receive legal announcements (press publication or online press service) with a minimum circulation or audience in the jurisdiction of the competent court.
Acceptance before a notary
You can also make the declaration before a notary.
– The heir declares before the notary that he accepts the estate up to the net assets. This allows him to pay the estate’s debts only up to his share of the inheritance and to protect his assets.
– Within one month of this formal acceptance, the notary sends a copy of the declaration to the competent court.
– At the same time, the notary informs the heir of his obligation to publish his declaration within one month in a medium authorized to receive legal announcements (press publication or online press service) with a minimum local circulation or audience (set by decree). In practice, the notary carries out this formality on behalf of his client and writes the notice of insertion.
2. Carry out an inventory
Appoint a professional
As an heir, you cannot proceed with the inventory yourself; you must appoint a professional. This can be:
– the notary in charge of the estate;
– a judicial auctioneer
– a bailiff.
File the inventory with the clerk of the court
You then have two months, from the date of the declaration of acceptance of your estate, to make an inventory.
Important: it is necessary to file the inventory with the clerk of the judicial court within the deadline. If the inventory is not filed within two months, the legatee is considered to have accepted the estate outright, despite his prior declaration.
Wait for the publication of the inventory in the official bulletin of civil and commercial announcements.
The inventory is then published in the official bulletin of civil and commercial announcements from the clerk’s office of the judicial court.
3. Wait for the next step
Manage the estate assets
You can either keep or sell the estate assets.
– If you choose to sell, keeping the money in an escrow account is in your best interest to pay the debts.
– You can also entrust the management of the estate’s assets to an agent, usually the notary who handled the file.
Wait for the end of the 15 months
Creditors have 15 months to claim their due, starting from the inventory’s publication date in the official civil and commercial announcements bulletin. They must contact the clerk’s office of the judicial court to present their claims.
Within these 15 months, starting from the publication of the declaration of acceptance to the amount of the assets, the heir sells the estate’s property or declares to keep one or more of them.
The declaration to retain the property must be sent to the court within 15 days. The property not retained is sold by mutual agreement or by auction.
If the heir sells an asset, he owes the price to the creditors. If the heir keeps the property, he owes the property’s value as determined in the inventory.
The heir must pay the creditors within two months of the declaration of retention of the property or the day the sale is completed and the price available.
Important: It is important to know that any creditor can contest the value of the property retained or the price when the sale was made out of court before the judge. If the judge upholds the claim, the heir will be liable for the difference from his personal property unless he returns the property to the estate if it was retained.
Read more: 6 Steps to Settle an Estate Without a Notary