Inheritance and wills

Does the inheritor who hides assets from the inheritance commit a crime?

When it comes to sharing the assets of the inheritance, it is necessary to draw up the list of assets of the inheritance which, in simple terms, consists of the list of all the assets which are to be shared among the inheritors. As a rule, it is up to the administrator of the inheritance (the inheritor responsible for administering the inheritance) to draw up this list of assets, which may (and should!) be perfected by the other inheritors.

And what happens when one or some of the inheritors hides assets from the inheritance because they do not want to share them with the others?

Provided for in Article 2096 of the Civil Code, hiding assets from the inheritance involves the malicious concealment of the existence of assets from the inheritance by any inheritor, whether or not he is the administrator of the inheritance. This article provides that “An inheritor who deceits inheritance assets by deceitfully concealing their existence, whether or not he is the administrator of the inheritance, shall forfeit, for the benefit of the joint beneficiaries, any right he may have to any part of the concealed assets, in addition to incurring in any other applicable penalties.” In other words, the inheritor who conceals assets from the inheritance loses the right to any part of the hidden assets, which will only be distributed among the other inheritors.

Our courts have been clarifying some necessary requirements for the verification of a situation of concealment of inheritance assets, namely: (1) the requirement of an objective nature, which occurs when the inheritor, faced with the duty to declare certain inheritance assets, conceals its existence by action or omission; and (2) the requirement of a subjective nature, which corresponds to the heir’s knowledge that such assets belong to the inheritance and should be related as such, and the will not to do so – that is, that there is malice in this concealment, and not mere negligence.

If the inheritor who has concealed assets from the inheritance exercises the role of administrator of the inheritance, he may also be removed from that role, pursuant to Article 2086, no. 1, al. a) of the Civil Code.

Finally, concealment of assets may also constitute a crime of theft or a crime of breach of trust.


Carla Chibeni

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