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Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession Of Departed, Indebted Parents

Inheritance can provide a nest egg for children of the deceased. But increasingly in France, deceased parents leave a mountain of debt to children who can't afford to pay it off. A sign of both economic hard times and shifting demographics.

Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession Of Departed, Indebted Parents


PARIS - Europe's grim economic news now appears to be following more and more families all the way to the grave. In France, a new report shows that a rising number of people are dying in debt, leaving children unable to cover the costs to creditors -- and ultimately forced to legally renounce succession.

Disclaimed inheritances increased by 33.5% between 2004 and 2010, according to figures given by the Ministry of Justice. This upward trend seems to be accelerating in 2011, which could well turn out to be a record year. The high cost of living and rising housing and energy prices has forced more retirees to take loans to make ends meet; and when they die, their debts are passed onto their heirs, with burdens averaging between 20,000 and 60,000 euros.

Beyond the current economic cycle, this situation is linked to France's longterm aging population. In order to cope with the costs of paying for retirement or home medical care, families are forced to sell their house, leaving no inheritance -- or even worse, debts.

When people renounce their inheritance, the succession is then said to be vacant. It's up to tax services to try and sell some of the estate's items to repay the creditors of the deceased, though it is typically not enough to cover the outstanding debt.

Read the entire original article in French by Catherine Rollot

Photo – John Althouse Cohen

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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