Can debt become statute-barred after years?

Wrong decisions, serious illnesses or unemployment can quickly lead to debts, which continue to accumulate over time. Those affected are therefore looking for possible solutions to get rid of the debt again. In principle, debts can also become statute-barred. “The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of debt,” emphasizes lawyer Christian Lange from Hanover.

In principle, debts can also become statute-barred

In principle, debts can also become statute-barred. The statute of limitations varies greatly depending on the type of debt. It depends on the guilt:

Different statutes of limitations apply to general collection debts than, for example, to tax debts. “However, the probability that debts will actually simply become statute-barred is rather low,” emphasizes Lange.

One of the reasons for this is that all processes such as deferrals, partial payments of the debt burden and the like lead to an extension of the limitation period. In addition, there should hardly be any creditors who simply forget open items. That does happen, but it’s very rare, says Lange.

When does the statute of limitations on debt begin?

To calculate the statute of limitations, you need to know when the original claim arose. It is also important to consider whether the claim is titled. Such a title arises, for example, from an enforcement order.

If an objection is not raised against the enforcement order within the time limit, it becomes final. As an enforcement title, it officially states that the creditor is entitled to the claim that is established in the notification. It is then practically impossible to defend against the claim.

According to § 195 of the German Civil Code (BGB), debts can expire after 3 years. So if there is a titled claim, a statute of limitations only occurs after 30 years (§ 197 BGB)!

The general statute of limitations ends after three years, generally starting on December 31 of the year in which the debt was due to be paid.

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Different periods of limitation

As mentioned, there are different time limits for the statute of limitations. It always depends on the type of debt and the circumstances.

Collection Debt

In the case of collection debts, there are generally no special features. If the limitation period has already expired and the debtor receives a letter of formal notice or a reminder after the limitation period has expired, the debtor can draw attention to the expired limitation period in writing. The debt then no longer has to be paid.

Health insurance debt

Debts can also accumulate with health insurance companies if contributions are not paid. In this case, the claims become statute-barred after 4 years. However, anyone who was demonstrably solvent must reckon with a statute of limitations of 30 years.

Complicated tax liabilities

When it comes to tax debts, there are many different factors to consider. The statute of limitations on payments in tax law is generally five years (§ 228 AO). This regulation applies to both sides, i.e. the tax office and the tax debtor. However, the statute of limitations for assessment must be distinguished from the statute of limitations for payment. In the case of tax debts, a specialist lawyer for tax law should always be consulted, advises Lange. Because every detail counts when it comes to developing the right strategy.

Creditors are almost always given a title

If there is an enforcement title, the limitation period is 30 years. Creditors will therefore always try to obtain a title.

In addition, the statute of limitations begins again and again if, for example, partial payments are made within these 30 years. The period is also extended if the bailiff applies for a court or official enforcement action and attempts to collect outstanding claims.

Conclusion: Is it the right strategy to rely on the statute of limitations on the claim?

Should debt expire? It is very rare for debts to simply become statute-barred. In addition, it is a “risk game” to hope that the creditor will not collect the outstanding claims within the statute of limitations. In addition, the statute of limitations is very long at 3 to 30 years.

In order to get rid of debts, the statutes of limitations are rather unsuitable, even if it happens again and again that debts “simply become statute-barred”. Rather, those affected should contact a debt counseling center.

The experts can, for example, negotiate out-of-court settlements meet the creditors and thus reduce the debt burden.

If the debt burden is too high, personal bankruptcy can help you get out of debt after three years.