Can heirs decline their inheritance?

The inheritance law allows the prospective heir to conclude with the prospective testator an inheritance disclaimer agreement. Such agreement should be executed in a form of a notarial deed. Therefore, no written document shall be deemed as valid and legally effective, unless authenticated by a notary public. The disclaimer agreement may be signed only by a statutory heir i.e. relative of the prospective testator who succeeds to his/her estate after his/her death. How can a statutory heir decline his/her inheritance? A testamentary heir may just reject the deceased’s estate. It should be emphasised, however, that such disclaimer must be filed by the heir not later than 6 months after obtaining knowledge about his/her entitlement i.e. the Last Will.

The person who has declined his/her inheritance, may also reverse such disclaimer. The disclaimer of inheritance may be cancels, but in such case a new agreement must be made between the testator and the prospective heir. Moreover, for its validity, such agreement must be drafted in a form of notarial deed.

The person intending to decline his/her inheritance should be aware that such disclaimer will also extend to his/her children, grandchildren and other descendants. All these persons will be excluded from succession, as if they have not survived until opening of the estate. Hence, if anyone intending to reject his/her inheritance does not want such agreement to be effective upon his/her children, grandchildren and other descendants, s/he should express this intent in the agreement with the prospective testator.

What is disposal of the estate?

The heir who has accepted the inheritance may dispose of it either in total, or partially. If the estate has been accepted by several heirs, each of them may dispose of his/her share accordingly. The acquirer of the estate or any share therein will also assume all rights and obligations of the heir. Similarly to an inheritance disclaimer agreement, an inheritance disposal agreement should also be executed in the form of notarial deed.

Signing of an inheritance disposal agreement may help the parties to avoid time-consuming estate distribution proceedings. If the estate including a real property needs to be divided among several heirs who cannot decide how it should be shared, or agree upon its value, the one who would like to obtain his/her money quickly may sell his/her share in the estate before the others resolve their dispute in the court.

Although an inheritance disposal agreement cannot be concluded before the testator’s death, the parties may nonetheless conclude another agreement obligating them to dispose their assets in the future. Both the seller and buyer of the estate shall be jointly and severally liable for their debts. As a consequence, if any heir sells his/her estate or corresponding share therein to a third party, his/her creditors will still reserve the right to demand repayment of his/her debts related to such estate. Meanwhile, the heir who has sold his/her estate or any part thereof may request the buyer to reimburse him/her for any payments made thereafter in favour of his/her creditors. Therefore, if the heir who has sold his part in the estate is called upon by his/her creditors to pay a specific amount and settles such payment, s/he may then demand reimbursement thereof from the buyer, unless it has been prescribed otherwise in the inheritance disposal agreement.