Do Heirs Have to Pay the Deceased’s Fines?

What Happens to Fines in an Inheritance?

When entering into an inheritance, one is entitled to a proportional share of the deceased’s estate, which includes not only assets and credits but also some debts.
However, not all of the deceased’s obligations fall on the heirs, as some responsibilities are considered strictly personal and not transferable in our legal system.
So, what happens to fines?

Types of Fines

Usually, fines are immediately associated with traffic fines, such as penalties imposed on drivers for violations of the Highway Code (running a red light or exceeding speed limits, just to name a few), but there are also criminal fines, established by the judge upon conviction.

For the sake of completeness, it is also worth mentioning administrative and civil sanctions, even if they are rarely referred to as fines, as they still involve a pecuniary obligation on the part of the deceased, which undoubtedly may concern the heirs.
Let’s see what the law establishes regarding when heirs must pay the deceased’s fines and when they can avoid it.

Do Heirs Have to Pay the Deceased’s Fines?

Starting with traffic fines, which undoubtedly spark the most interest when it comes to fines in an inheritance.
It will certainly be good news to know that traffic fines are not passed on to the heirs.
Moreover, this principle applies not only to violations of the Highway Code but generally to all administrative sanctions.

These sanctions have an afflictive nature, as they serve to encourage compliance with administrative measures and punish non-compliance, thus being personal.
There is no doubt that heirs do not have to pay traffic fines, but to avoid any inconvenience, it is advisable to submit the death certificate to the creditor entity to have the sanction annulled.

However, there are some specific cases that require attention, namely:

  • When the vehicle with which the deceased received fines is registered to other individuals.
  • When the deceased’s vehicle is subject to administrative seizure.

The owner or co-owner of the vehicle is indeed jointly liable with the driver who committed the offense and therefore must pay the fines.
It is important to note that this refers to cases where the vehicle was already registered or co-registered to other individuals, excluding ownership transfers occurring after the death.

A different scenario is when the deceased’s vehicle is subject to an administrative seizure.
This is not a fine but a subsequent measure aimed at recovering the credit and directly encumbering the asset.
The heirs must settle the debt; otherwise, they cannot use the vehicle without incurring penalties.

Administrative Sanctions

Regarding traffic fines, we have clarified that administrative sanctions do not pass on to the heirs, including penalties related to unpaid taxes.
However, it must be clarified that the deceased’s tax debts must be paid by the heirs, who are entitled to avoid only the amounts charged as penalties.

Criminal Fines of the Deceased

Criminal fines (legally speaking, only these sanctions are referred to as fines) do not have to be paid by the heirs.
Not only is criminal liability always personal, but in any case, the offense is extinguished upon the death of the perpetrator.

Civil Sanctions

On the other hand, a type of sanction that is transmitted to the heirs is civil sanctions.
These are sanctions not limited by personal responsibility, as they directly depend on the regulations on obligations and contracts, serving a deterrent or compensatory function rather than afflictive.
In practice, they concern damages to be paid by the deceased, which are then passed on to the heirs.

Author: Hermes A.I.

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