SECTION II - OF THE ACCEPTANCE OF A SUCCESSION WITH THE BENEFIT OF AN INVENTORY
Art. 96. The testamentary, or legal, or irregular heir, who is afraid to accept or renounce a succession, before having had the necessary time to be informed of its property and charges, may accept the succession with the benefit of an inventory.
Art. 97. The benefit of an inventory is a right by virtue of which the heir upon his declaring that he accepts the succession only with that benefit, obtains to be liable for the debts and charges of the estate only so far as the effects of the succession shall amount to, without engaging in any manner, his own property.
Art. 98. In order to the enjoyment of the benefit of inventory, it is necessary -
1st. That the heir should in no manner have meddled with the succession, nor done any act of heirdom.
2dly. That the heir should make his declaration in the office of a notary, in the presence of two witnesses, that his intention is to accept the succession to him accrued, only under the benefit of an inventory.
3dly. That he should make a faithful and exact inventory, with appraisement of all the moveable and immoveable property, effects, titles, and papers of the succession, before a notary public duly authorised by the parish judge to that effect, and in presence of two witnesses.
Art. 99. The heir who has the benefit of an inventory, has three months to form the inventory to him prescribed by the preceding article.
Those three months begin to run from the day on which the death of the deceased is known.
The inventory must be begun within thirty days from that on which the said death is known, and be terminated in the sixty following days.
Art. 100. Besides the delay of three months granted to make the inventory, the beneficiary heir has forty days for deliberating whether he will finally accept or renounce the succession.
The forty days for deliberating begin to run from the day on which the three months granted for making the inventory expire, or from the day on which the inventory is terminated, if it is at an end before the said expiration.
Art. 101. If at the expiration of the three months, the inventory was not terminated, the delay of forty days for deliberating, will nevertheless begin to run from the day of such expiration.
However, after the expiration of the aforesaid delay, the heir, in case of any suit directed against him, may solicit a prorogation, which the court having cognizance of the case, may grant in its prudence, if the heir proves either that he had not been informed of the death, or that the delays have not been sufficient, on account of the situation of the property, or because some contestations have happened, or such like motives.
Art. 102. A consequence of the benefit of an inventory is, that when it is claimed by an heir who has done no act as heir, the creditors nor legatees of the estate, cannot compel him to assume the quality of such, nor obtain against him any judgment while he is within the delays which the law grants him for making the inventory and deliberating, or within the delay further granted to him by the judge, in the cases mentioned in the preceding article; so that if the heir renounces on the expiration of the said delays, or before it, the costs by him lawfully caused until then, are supported by the succession.
Art. 103. The declaration of the heir that he accepts the succession only with the benefit of an inventory, may be made indifferently before or after the formation of the inventory required by law, provided it is made within the delays; and even after the expiration of the said delays, the heir may yet make the inventory, and becomes heir with the benefit of it, if he has done no act of heir, or if there exists against him no final judgment sentencing him in quality of heir pure and simple.
Art. 104. Although the heir who accepts with the benefits of an inventory, be really the lawful heir and true successor of the deceased, the effect however of the benefit of inventory, is to make him appear in the eyes of the creditors and legatees of the succession, rather as administrator of the estate, than as the true heir and proprietor of it.
The heir under such benefit can therefore do all acts of administration, even those the object of which is the liquidation of the estate.
Art. 105. But he cannot sell the moveable nor the immoveable property of the succession without the authorisation of the judge, and such sale must be made at public auction, after the usual advertisements and publications.
If he represents the moveable estate in nature, he is answerable only for the deterioration caused by his neglect.
Art. 106. Good faith is required from the heir under benefit in his administration; but no other diligence is demanded of him than such as he is capable of, and is accustomed to make for his own business; wherefore he is responsible towards his creditors only for gross and weighty faults.
Art. 107. The beneficiary heir must, if the creditors and other persons interested require it, give good and sufficient security for the value of the property contained in the inventory.
In default of such security, they may compel him to deposit all sums which he may hold on any title belonging to the succession, as he will recover them, in one of the banks established under the authority of the territory; such sums to be afterwards applied to the payment of the charges of the succession.
Art. 108. If some creditor has formed any opposition in the hands of the heir under benefit, it shall not be lawful for the said heir to make any payment otherwise than in the order and manner which shall be settled by the judge.
Such oppositions are formed either by appearing at the inventory, and there making a convenient declaration, or by an extra-judicial act notified by means of a notary, wherein mention shall be made of the nature and amount of the debt, and of the privileges or mortgages attending it, if any.
Art. 109. On the expiration of the delays for deliberating, the creditors and legatees may demand of the beneficiary heir, an account of his administration and of the sums which he may have in his hands belonging to the succession.
Upon his failing to render such account, the beneficiary heir may be compelled to pay out of his own fund, the sums thus demanded.
Art. 110. If on the face of such account, the heir owes a balance and refuses to deliver it, he shall be compelled to pay it out of his own property.
If on the contrary he owes no balance, no other resource shall be left to the creditors and legatees, than that of seizing and selling such moveable and immoveable property of the succession as may exist in nature.
Art. 111. If on the expiration of the delays granted to the heir for making the inventory and deliberating, no creditors come forward, or no opposition is made in his hands, the said heir may then render his account of administration before the judge contradictorily with a counsel named to that effect by the judge; and upon the settlement of such account obtain the authorisation of the judge to apply the balance in his hands, to the liquidation of the estate.
And when such authorisation shall have been advertised three times from week to week, in english and in french, either by papers posted up in the usual places or by advices published in at least two of the news papers printed at the city of New-Orleans, if no creditor comes forward, the heir aforesaid shall be at liberty to pay the legataries of the succession.
Art. 112. If however any creditors should present their claims after such payment and there should not remain sufficient funds in the hands of the heir, to discharge their debts, they shall have a right to compel the legataries to bring back their legacies, either in all or in part up to the sum necessary to fill the deficiency; in such case the creditors have a direct action against the legataries, but cannot molest the beneficiary heir, if he has not paid in spite of their opposition.
Such action of the creditors against the legataries becomes barred by the lapse of three years from the date of the settling of the account of the beneficiary heir, on which the said legataries have been paid.
Art. 113. If after the presentation of his account and the advertisements given as explained in the foregoing 111th article, the beneficiary heir has paid any creditors, should then other creditors, who had omitted to present their claims, come forward, and not find sufficient funds to be paid in the whole or in part, such creditors shall have no action against the creditors paid as aforesaid, to make them to refund the same, though the creditors paid were mere chirographaries over whom the others might have had a preference by virtue of privileges or mortgages.
Art. 114. One of the effects which are produced by the benefit of inventory, is that if the heir was himself creditor of the deceased, he shall not mingle his quality of creditor with that of heir, which makes him debtor to himself, but shall conserve his right entire, like the other creditors, with such privileges or mortgages as he may hold.
Thus the beneficiary heir without renouncing to or abandoning the estate of the succession, can be paid by contribution, at so much per pound, with the other creditors who have seized or attached the unincumbered property of the succession, or come in according to the order of his privilege or mortgage, if he has any against such property of the successon, as if affected to such privilege or mortgage.
The beneficiary heir preserves also the privilege of the action of claim or others which he may have on real property sold by the deceased to third persons.
Art. 115. Another effect of the benefit of an inventory is that the heir with such benefit may, if he pleases, renounce the succession by abandoning the property to the creditors and legataries, and giving them an account of his administration until such abandonment.
Art. 116. The property of the beneficiary heir is tacitly mortgaged from the day of his acceptance under the inventory, for the administration for which he is accountable, to the creditors and legataries of the succession and for the deteriorations of which he might be the cause.
The beneficiary heir can claim no commission, nor any other salaries for his administration and management.
Art. 117. The heir who has made himself guilty of concealment, or who has knowingly and knavishly omitted to comprehend in the inventory some effects of the succession, loses his right to the benefit of an inventory.