According to the Ministry of Justice, the inheritance system in Colombia stipulates that debts are also inherited. When a person dies, they pass on not only the assets they owned to their children, siblings, parents or spouses, but also their debts. In fact, it is possible for the heirs to incur debts that exceed their assets, so that they end up paying off the debts of the deceased.
Generally, debts are distributed among heirs in proportion to the distribution of assets. For example, if there are two heirs, each receives 50% of the deceased’s assets and 50% of the debts acquired during their lifetime. However, if asset succession is regulated by a will, the way debts are inherited could change.
In fact, by leaving a will, a person can determine how their assets and debts should be distributed. For this reason, Colombian law provides that heirs have the opportunity to choose how the distribution of debts will take place: they can choose whether the liabilities will be paid according to the percentages established in the will or according to the parameters of national regulations, that is, in proportion to the distribution of assets should.
What happens if the debt is greater than the inheritance?
According to the law, “the heir who has to assume a debt exceeding his share of the inheritance may require the other heirs to pay the share corresponding to each of them.” It is therefore not mandatory to pay a debt to take over disproportionately if there are other heirs who received a larger percentage of the estate.
However, in the event that the inherited debts are more expensive than the assets, the heirs can request the use of the inventory, a legal remedy that would prevent the heirs, instead of increasing their assets, from ultimately having to pay off the acquired debts with their own means. for the deceased person. “The heir who has to assume a debt that exceeds the inheritance allocation due to him can ask the other heirs to pay the share corresponding to each of them,” explained Helí Abel Torrado, a lawyer specializing in civil law.
The benefit of the inventory can actually be used by an heir who received the asset through a will or succession order. In addition, if the debts are greater than the inheritance, the heirs can refuse the inheritance, so that if they do not receive the assets belonging to the deceased’s estate, they would not inherit their debts either.