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Lee Jae-myung pledges to prevent minors from inheriting debt

Lee Jae-myung pledges to prevent minors from inheriting debt

Posted January. 11, 2022 08:15,   

Updated January. 11, 2022 08:15


Ruling Democratic Party (DP) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung on Monday pledged to revise the civil law to prevent minors inheriting their parents’ debt as part of his “small but certain happiness” pledges. The pledge would close the loophole in the law highlighted by The Dong-A Ilbo in its special feature, “Children who inherit debts” in May and “Children who got out of debts” in December.

Lee wrote on his Facebook account on Monday that he would revise the civil law to prevent minors from inheriting parents’ debt. “I will amend the law so that minors can inherit with the benefit of inventory within a certain period of time after they reached the age of majority if the legal representative missed the chance to inherit with the benefit of inventory,” wrote Lee. Mentioning the December article of The Dong-A Ilbo, Lee said he learned of a sad story, where a child just over two years old had to pay off the debt of the child’s deceased father. Lee said there are many cases, where minors are saddled with parents’ debt because the legal representative lacked in legal knowledge or was unable to respond properly. Lee pointed out that as many as 80 minors filed for personal bankruptcy from 2016 to Mar. 2021 due to the inheritance of parental debt.

Lee explained the purpose of his pledge, saying it would give minors one more chance to avoid getting into debt if they find out that their parents’ debt is greater than their inherited property. The benefit of inventory, which gives heirs the privilege of giving up inheritance or being liable for the debts of the inheritance up to the value of the estate they succeed, exists under the current civil law, but the legal representative must apply within three months of the day the heir was informed about the inheritance in order to be exempted from the debt. Lee promised to speed up the legislation, stressing that he will work hard to prevent young people from becoming credit delinquents even before taking their first step into society.

After The Dong-A Ilbo published the special feature, the government implemented a system on Dec. 1, where local governments and the Korea Legal Aid Corporation support the waiver of debt inheritance process for the bereaved minors in the event of the death of a parent. But the need to supplement the system through legislation has been constantly raised. Currently, four amendments to the civil law proposed by DP lawmakers Song Ki-heon and Baek Hye-ryun are pending in the National Assembly. A DP official said they are under discussion with relevant ministries, such as the Ministry of Justice as well as the opposition party to amend the law, adding the amendments might be passed at the provisional session of the National Assembly as early as February.

Oh-Hyuk Kwon hyuk@donga.com