Testaments and Wills in Costa Rica
Testaments and wills are important legal tools that allow people to plan how their assets will be distributed after their death. In Costa Rica, there are two types of probate: testamentary probate and intestate probate. In this blog, we will explore the step-by-step process to carry out a probate or will in Costa Rica.
Step 1: Understand the law
Before beginning the probate process, it is important to understand the law in Costa Rica. The law governing probate and wills in Costa Rica is the Civil Code, which establishes the rules and requirements for these processes. Some of the things that are important to understand include:
The order of priority of heirs in case of intestate succession.
The requirements for a will to be valid
The rights and responsibilities of the heirs.
Step 2: Make an inventory of assets
The next step is to make an inventory of the assets to be included in the estate or will. This may include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments and other assets. It is important to make a complete and detailed inventory of all assets to ensure that nothing important is omitted.
Step 3: Decide who the heirs will be
In the case of probate, the testator must decide who the heirs will be and how the assets will be distributed among them. It is important to be clear and specific in the will to avoid confusion or disputes in the future.
In the case of intestate succession, the law establishes an order of priority for the heirs, which is based on the relationship of the deceased to his or her closest relatives. This order of priority may include your spouse, children, parents, siblings and other relatives.
Step 4: Drafting the Will
In the case of probate, the next step is to draft the will. The will must be written and signed by the testator, and must comply with the legal requirements established by the Civil Code. Some of the requirements include:
The will must be written on paper or any other medium that allows its preservation.
The will must be signed by the testator at the end of its contents or on each sheet that composes it.
The will must be signed by two witnesses of legal age, who cannot be heirs.
It is important that the will be clear and specific as to how the assets are to be distributed. Provisions for the care of minor children, the choice of a guardian or conservator, and other matters relating to the welfare of the family may also be included.
Step 5: Probate the Will
Once the will has been drafted and signed, it is important to probate it before a notary public. The notary will verify that the will meets the legal requirements and issue a public deed certifying the validity of the will.
Step 6: Appoint an Executor
In the case of probate, the testator may also appoint an executor, who will be responsible for carrying out the provisions of the will. The executor can be a trusted person, such as a relative or close friend, or an attorney.
Step 7: File the will or initiate intestate probate
Once the will drafting and probate process has been completed, the will must be filed with the National Registry. The National Registry is the entity in charge of maintaining property and other public records in Costa Rica.
In the case of intestate succession, a legal process must be initiated to determine who the heirs will be and how the assets will be distributed. This process takes place in a court of law and can be long and complicated.
Step 8: Pay taxes
In Costa Rica, inheritances and wills are subject to taxes. Taxes may vary depending on the value of the assets and the relationship between the deceased and the heirs. It is important to consult with an attorney or accountant to determine the amount of taxes due and how they should be paid.
Step 9: Distribute the assets
Once the taxes have been paid and all legal formalities have been completed, the assets can be distributed among the heirs. It is important to ensure that the provisions of the will or the rules of law in the case of intestate succession are followed.
Step 10: Register the assets
Finally, the assets must be registered in the name of the new owners. This may include transferring title deeds, updating bank accounts and other paperwork necessary to ensure that the heirs have legal ownership of the assets.
In summary, probate and wills are important tools for planning how assets will be distributed after death. In Costa Rica, the process to carry out a probate or will can be complicated and may require the help of an attorney or accountant. However, with proper planning and an understanding of the law, it is possible to ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased and in a fair and equitable manner among the heirs.
In addition to the steps mentioned above, it is important to highlight some additional considerations that may be useful when carrying out a probate or will in Costa Rica.
First, it is important to make sure that all assets are included in the will or intestate succession process. This includes not only tangible assets such as property, but also other assets such as investments, bank accounts and other assets that can be easily overlooked. If any assets are omitted from the will or probate process, there can be legal problems and disagreements among the heirs.
Another important consideration is the choice of executor or executors if several have been appointed. It is important that the executors be trustworthy and responsible persons, and that they be willing to comply with the provisions of the will or the law in the case of intestate succession. It is important to discuss with potential executors their role and responsibilities, to ensure that they are willing and able to carry out their role.
It is also important to consider making updates to the will from time to time, especially in the event of significant changes in the testator’s life. For example, if the testator acquires new assets or if there are changes in the family structure, it may be necessary to update the will to reflect these changes. It is also important to keep an updated copy of the will in a safe and accessible place.
In terms of costs, it is important to keep in mind that the probate and will process can have significant costs, including attorney and accountant fees, as well as taxes and other associated expenses. It is important to discuss these costs with a professional and plan ahead to avoid unpleasant surprises.
In conclusion, probate and wills are important tools for planning how assets will be distributed after death. In Costa Rica, the process can be complicated and may require the help of a lawyer or accountant, but with proper planning and an understanding of the law, it is possible to ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased and in a fair and equitable manner among the heirs. By considering these additional considerations, it is possible to make the process smoother and ensure that the wishes of the testator or the law in the case of intestate succession are followed.