The Importance of the Will for Foreigners Who Have Children or Property in the Country

Have you ever thought about creating a will in Costa Rica? If you have children or properties in Costa Rica, a will is the best way to guarantee that your assets and children can be fully protected when you have passed. While this is true, many people do not like to think about doing so, but creating a will is one of the most responsible strategies for taking care of your family and your property.

As you may know, a will is a legal means whereby people, in full use of their mental faculties, can establish who will be their universal heirs or establish a specific legacy of assets.

It is important to consider creating a will, because if a will is not established, the succession process can become tedious and even problematic for your loved ones. Our recommendation would be to seek reliable legal assistance to prevent unscrupulous people from trying to take advantage of your situation.

To establish a will, the testator personally should manifest his/her wishes; it is not possible to transfer that right to anyone else, since it is a personal act. This must be in writing, but it is possible to change it in the future. If you do decide to modify the will later, you can definitively do it and a new will would need to be created in order to void the previous one. Importantly, do not forget to appoint the executor, who is the person who will manage your assets until they are distributed to the people you designate as heirs.

In Costa Rica, we have two types of wills: the Open Will and the Closed Will.

The Open Will:

  • Is written before a notary public in front of three witnesses.
  • Must be written in a public deed and signed by the witnesses.
  • The notary public must take the will to the National Archive, where it will be kept safely in order to prevent someone from modifying it.

The Closed Will:

  • Must be written privately, signed, and sealed.
  • Must be brought before a notary public before the presence of two witnesses.
  • The notary will issue a deed with the annotations regarding the characteristics and conditions in which the envelope was delivered and said deed will be signed by the witnesses.
  • This type of will can only be opened after the death of the testator and before a civil judge.

Our recommendation when choosing the type of will, is to establish an Open Will. This kind of will is safer, since the content of the will would be duly registered in the National Archive and, thus, avoids any unnecessary conflicts.

In addition, the notary public can guide you when preparing your will and, therefore, you can rest assured that it would comply with all the necessary formalities to avoid that in the future someone might contest the validity of your will.

When the time comes, after the testator passes away, it becomes time to execute the wishes that were included in the will. A probate proceeding before a notary public or judicial court should take place.

When there is an Open Will, it can be processed before a notary public granted all successors are of legal age. In addition, it is mandatory that there is no conflict between the heirs. That is to say, all the heirs need to express agreement with the distribution established in the will. If there is any controversy or disagreement, the process passes directly to civil headquarters, where a judge will determine how the division of assets will take place.

In short, when there is disagreement between the parties, when there is a Closed Will, and if the heirs are minors, the inheritance process must necessarily be carried out before a civil court.

In summary, what are the main advantages of establishing a will?

  • We can choose our heirs and distribute the inheritance in the way that we best see fit.
  • We can avoid problems among family members, since they must agree on the distribution of goods if there was no will.
  • The succession process is more flexible and creates less economic cost.
  • If we do not have children or relatives, we can name someone specific and prevent inheritance from being handed over to the State.

What are the disadvantages of making a Will?

There are none! Do not think about it anymore and take proactive steps towards creating a will.

If you want more information, please contact us at Outlier Legal Services. We are here to serve you.

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Yazmín Ureña

Yazmín Ureña

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