Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Benefit of Inventory Definition:

A right of legal or testamentary beneficiaries to an estate to demand of the administrator an inventory of the estate.

Related Terms: Probate

Established in the Corpus Civilis, the benefit of inventory required of all executors or other administrators of the estate of a deceased to make an inventory of the estate and to pay all debts of the estate before distribution to the beneficiaries. It also gives them the opportunity of ascertaining the net value of the estate before accepting it.

This has become a principle of estate law in civil law and common law jurisdictions.

In Kelley, Justice Rogers of the Supreme Court of Louisiana wrote:

“By benefit of inventory is meant the privilege or advantage which an heir may enjoy, of having his liability for the debts or obligations of the succession limited to the extent of the value of the estate which he inherits....

“The heir who accepts with the benefit of inventory is liable for the debts of the succession only to the value of its effects.”

The Civil Code of France, version 2010, states at §774, §793 and §802:

"A succession may be accepted outright or subject to benefit of inventory....

"The declaration of an heir, that he intends to assume that capacity only under benefit of inventory, must be made at the court....

"The effect of the benefit of inventory is to give an heir the advantage: (1) To be obliged to pay the debts of the succession only to the extent of the value of the property which he receives, and even to be allowed to discharge himself from paying the debts by abandoning all the property of the succession to the creditors and legatees; (2) Not to mingle his personal property with that of the succession, and to keep against it the right to ask for payment of his claims."


  • Howe, W., Studies in the Civil Law (Littleton, Colorado: Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1980), page 162
  • Kelley v Kelley 3 So. 2d 641 (Supreme Court of Louisiana, 1941)

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