After a death, a tax known as succession duty is paid when the assets are transferred from a deceased person to his or her heirs.
The amount paid as succession duty depends on the value of the estate and the degree of the relationship between the deceased and the heirs.
These rates are set by the regions. They vary according to the place in which the deceased had his fiscal residence.
As the heir of a deceased person, you have three options:
- You simply accept the succession.
The estate of the deceased person and your own estate will then be regarded as one. The deceased person's debts become yours, as do any claims due to him and the goods which he possessed. If it appears that the liabilities (the debts) are greater than the assets (the goods and the claims due), you must pay the difference from your own estate.
- You renounce the succession.
The estate is passed, if possible, to heirs who do not refuse it. If all the heirs refuse, it is for the state to accept or refuse the succession.
- You accept the succession subject to an inventory.
First, an inventory must be drawn up of the deceased person's estate: what assets and what liabilities there are. If there are any assets remaining after all the creditors have received their entitlement, these assets are incorporated into your own estate. If the deceased's creditors do not obtain all their claims because the estate is insufficient, they have no claim against you.
Where the liabilities exceed the assets of the estate, however, an heir who has accepted the succession subject to an inventory is not exempt from the payment of succession duties.