Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers to push for cancelation or easing of inherited debts for minors

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislators across party lines yesterday agreed to push an amendment that will allow anyone who inherited debt as a minor not to pay off the rest of the debt.

Under the proposed amendment to the debt inheritance regulation in the Civil Code (民法), anyone under the age of 20 who inherited debt may file a court appeal to excuse them from paying the remaining amount. However, they cannot ask creditors to return the money they have paid.

The regulation does not apply to people who inherited debt in their adulthood.

Once passed, the amendment will apply retroactively.

The proposed amendment is designed to benefit minors who are seriously in debt because of the burden left behind by deceased elder family members.

The Civil Code requires minors to apply for cancelation of their debt inheritance within three months of inheriting debt. This has created difficulties as some minors may not know they have inherited debt until they are pursued by creditors.

A survey by the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF) of more than 1,700 households found that 24.6 percent of minors were burdened with inherited debt.

Legislators yesterday also upheld an agreement reached at last week's cross-party negotiations that minors will only be required to pay for the debt they inherit using the assets they inherited.

This means minors who inherit debt only will not have to pay off the debt. However, this will only apply retroactively for three years.

Legislators also agreed yesterday to submit the conclusions directly for second reading.

The TFCF praised the legislature for its "quick and positive response" yesterday, but said that the latest development did not represent the end of their pursuit of a change in the law

"The proposed amendment only solves the problem for underaged members of debt-inheriting families," it said in a statement. "However, as inherited debts are often shouldered by both the children and single parents, our objective is to seek further amendments to completely clear inherited debts for minority families."

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin

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