Minors can only renounce the inheritance under certain legal conditions, which require the consent of their legal guardians and the approval of the court.

The procedure requires a formal statement to be filed with the court, where the judge will assess whether the relinquishment is in the best interests of the minor. This ensures that inherited assets are preserved and protected for the minor.

Legal capacity of minors

Minors rely on their legal guardians, especially parents, to make informed decisions. Parents, as legal guardians, must act in the best interests of their children, ensuring that inheritance decisions are aligned with the rights and future well-being of minors.

Decision-making by parents is complicated by legal requirements, such as the need for court permission to renounce inheritance. This protects minors from adverse situations that can arise from inheritances with liabilities or unwanted assets.

Automatic transfer of inheritance

The legal capacity of minors and the responsibilities of their legal guardians are directly crossed by the transfer of the inheritance, which is automatically transferred to the heirs after the death of the deceased. This automatic transfer ensures the immediate and universal acquisition of the property by the heirs, including minors, without the need for additional acts.

 Parents or legal guardians assume considerable responsibility for managing inherited assets until the minors reach adulthood. They must assess whether accepting the inheritance will benefit the minor, taking into account the potential liabilities of the estate. The minor’s consent is not required to accept or reject the inheritance, underlining the importance of informed parental decisions.

Rights of renunciation of inheritance

Although minors automatically acquire an inheritance, they retain the right to renounce it under certain legal conditions. The renunciation procedure for minors is complicated because of their limited legal capacity. Parental consent and court approval is required to ensure that the decision is in the best interests of the child and not solely driven by parental motives.

A properly executed disclaimer means that the inheritance is deemed never to have been acquired by the minor, protecting him or her from potential liabilities. Without court approval, the disclaimer can be considered invalid, resulting in the estate being transferred to the minor.

Court involvement provides oversight and safeguards the rights of the minor. The court assesses whether the relinquishment is aligned with the minor’s best interests and, if found beneficial, grants the necessary permission, thereby protecting the minor’s interests.

Official declaration procedure

Minors cannot independently renounce the inheritance due to their limited legal capacity, so parental consent is necessary. 

The first step is the preparation of legal documentation, including a written disclaimer, which is filed with the registry of the probate court. Parents or legal guardians act on behalf of the minor, ensuring that the documents are accurate and complete.

Court approval is crucial. Parents must seek the approval of the court, which evaluates whether the relinquishment is in the best interests of the minor. This process protects the minor from potential financial obligations.

During the court proceedings, the rights of the minor and the parents’ reasoning are examined. The court’s authorisation formalises the renunciation, making it legally binding. Compliance with these procedures ensures that the interests of the minor are protected.

Protection of the minor’s assets

Ensuring that a minor’s assets are protected during the inheritance process is critical to his or her financial future and legal interests. Such protection ensures that minors are not burdened with inheritance obligations that could reduce the value of the inheritance.

Judicial guardianship plays an important role, with parents or guardians managing the minor’s inheritance by giving priority to the minor’s rights and interests. This includes obtaining necessary court permissions to accept or disclaim inheritances, ensuring legal compliance.

In addition, the legal framework includes mechanisms for protection from creditors, such as the inventory, which separates liabilities from the minor’s pre-existing assets, thus protecting the estate.

Cancellation due to error

Mistakes made by parents or guardians during the inheritance process can lead to significant legal complications, making it necessary to investigate cancellation by mistake. When parents or guardians inadvertently administer a minor’s estate, the legal ramifications can be great.

Such errors may include failing to observe the disclaimer period, potentially leaving the minor with an unwanted inherited burden.

To address these issues, the law provides mechanisms for correcting errors. One such corrective mechanism is the cancellation of the acceptance of an inheritance due to an error, which can be invoked within an extended period of six months from the discovery of the error.

The courts have recognised that material errors concerning the waiver period and its consequences constitute grounds for annulment. Therefore, if the parents’ error is found to be material, the minor’s acceptance of the inheritance can be set aside, effectively restoring the inheritance process to its proper legal basis.

Extended period of waiver

The extended disinheritance period provides important protection for minors, allowing them extra time to disinherit an inheritance even after they have reached adulthood. Recognising the challenges faced by minors, this extension ensures that they are not bound by decisions made during the period of their limited legal capacity. 

The rights of minors are strengthened by offering them an extension of time to renounce the inheritance up to one year after they reach the age of majority. This is particularly useful for those who did not know or were not adequately represented by their parents. Parental responsibilities are critical as parents must act in the best interests of the child, however, the extended period provides the opportunity to correct potential mistakes.

The legal implications of this extension are important, ensuring that minors, when they reach adulthood, can independently reassess their inheritance decisions. Judicial supervision is essential to validate these renunciations, ensuring that they are carried out legally and in the interests of the heir who is now an adult.

This safeguard supports the principles of fairness and equality by providing a balanced framework in inheritance law for minors.

Frequently asked questions

Can grandparents renounce inheritance on behalf of a minor?

Grandparents, as legal guardians, can renounce an inheritance on behalf of a minor, but they must meet the consent requirements and obtain the court’s approval. Alternatively, trusts or custodial accounts can be set up to responsibly administer the inheritance.

What happens with the inheritance of a minor from a foreign relative?

When a minor inherits from a foreign relative, cross-border inheritance laws make it necessary to appoint a legal guardian. International wills may require the establishment of a trust to administer the assets, ensuring legal guardianship and safeguarding the minor’s interests.

Are minors taxed on inherited property?

Minors may be subject to inheritance tax on the inherited property, subject to the valuation of the property. However, tax exemptions and deductions may apply, which may reduce their tax burden.

How is the estate managed until the minors come of age?

The administration of the estate for minors is done through guardianship or trust arrangements. Legal guardians oversee the administration of the estate under court supervision to ensure that the assets are maintained and used in the best interests of the minor until he or she reaches adulthood.

Can a minor inherit the debt together with the property?

Yes, a minor can inherit debt along with property. Effective debt consolidation, the probate process and the appointment of a guardian are necessary to manage creditor claims and ensure proper estate planning to protect the minor’s financial interests.

Deuteraiou Anna and Associates Law Office.
39 Stadiou Street, Athens, Greece
Disinheritance of a minor