Succession Process and Wills in Costa Rica

As a foreigner investing in real estate in Costa Rica, it’s crucial to understand the succession process and wills in the country to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

So, today, we’ll explore the essential steps and considerations involved in the probate and will process, providing you with a comprehensive overview to navigate this important legal aspect.

What should I know about succession and testamentary processes if I live in Costa Rica?

In Costa Rica, testaments and wills are vital legal instruments that enable individuals to plan the distribution of their assets after their passing.

There are two types of probate: testamentary probate and intestate probate. Testamentary probate involves executing the instructions outlined in a valid will, while intestate probate applies in cases where there is no valid will.

Understanding the law governing probate and wills in our country, including the order of priority of heirs, the requirements for a valid will, and the rights and responsibilities of heirs, is crucial before initiating the probate process.

10 steps to process for probate or will in Costa Rica

Step 1: Understanding the Law

Before commencing the probate process, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Civil Code of Costa Rica, which outlines the regulations and prerequisites for probate and wills.

Step 2: Making an Inventory of Assets

Create a comprehensive inventory of all assets to be included in the estate or will, covering real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, and other relevant assets.

Step 3: Deciding the Heirs

For probate, the testator must determine the heirs and specify how the assets will be distributed to avoid potential confusion or disputes. In cases of intestate succession, the law establishes an order of priority for heirs based on their relationship to the deceased.

Step 4: Drafting the Will

In probate cases, the next step involves drafting the will in accordance with the legal requirements, including the need for the will to be written on a preservable medium, signed by the testator and two witnesses of legal age, and clear and specific in its instructions.

Step 5: Probating the Will

The draft will be probated before a notary public, who will verify its compliance with legal requirements and issue a public deed certifying its validity.

Succession Process and Wills in Costa Rica

Step 6: Appointing an Executor

In probate cases, the testator may appoint an executor responsible for executing the will’s provisions, which can be a trusted individual or an attorney.

Step 7: Filing the Will or Initiate Intestate Probate

Following the completion of the will drafting and probate process, the will must be filed with the Public Registry. In the case of intestate succession, a legal process must be initiated to determine the heirs and asset distribution.

Step 8: Paying Taxes

Inheritances and wills in Costa Rica are subject to taxes, with the amount varying based on asset value and the relationship between the deceased and the heirs.

Step 9: Distributing the Assets

After settling taxes and legal formalities, assets can be distributed among the heirs following the will or the rules of intestate succession.

Step 10: Registering the Assets

Ensure that the assets are registered in the name of the new owners, involving tasks such as transferring title deeds and updating relevant paperwork.

Factors to bear in mind when engaging in probate or will processes in Costa Rica

Succession Process and Wills in Costa Rica
  • Inclusion of All Assets: It’s crucial to ensure that all assets are encompassed in the will or intestate succession process, including tangible and intangible assets, to avoid potential legal issues.
  • Choice of Executor: Carefully selecting a trustworthy and responsible executor is pivotal, and potential executors should be willing to understand and fulfill their roles and responsibilities.
  • Regular Updating of the Will: Significant life changes may necessitate updates to the will, and maintaining an updated copy in a secure location is essential.
  • Costs and Professional Guidance: Acknowledging the associated costs of the probate and will process, including legal fees and taxes, and seeking professional advice to plan accordingly.

By considering these additional factors, you can navigate the probate and will processes in Costa Rica more effectively, thereby ensuring that the wishes of the deceased or the law in cases of intestate succession are upheld.

Contact us if you need to carry out an inheritance process or prepare your will, to ensure the future of your loved ones. It will be a pleasure to advise you and help you protect your assets.