Frequently Asked Questions about Wills
When it comes to assets and family, wills come to mind. Some of you made us frequent questions about this legal figure and this is a summary of the main topics related to wills:
What is a will?
A will is a legal means offered by the Costa Rican local regulations whereby people, in full use of their mental faculties, can establish who will be their universal heirs or establish a specific legacy of assets.
When should I consider setting a Will in Costa Rica?
If you have children or properties in Costa Rica, a will is the best option to guarantee that your assets and children can be fully protected when you are missing. While it is true, many people do not like to think about it, setting a will is one of the responsible alternatives to take care of yours and your assets.
Why is important to set up a will?
If a will is not established, the succession process can become tedious for your loved ones.
What is the process for my loved ones to receive my assets?
Without any exception all successors/heirs need to go through a probate proceeding to acquire the assets.
This probate proceeding can be either before a judicial court or handled by a Notary Public. If it is handled by a Notary Public it is usually completed within a few months, and if handled by a judge it can even take years, depending in the complications of each case.
But how will I know if it should be processed by a Notary Public or a civil court?
It can be processed before a Notary Public when a will is granted before a Notary Public.
In addition, it is mandatory that no conflict between the heirs exists, that is, all heirs express agreement with the distribution of the assets. If controversy or disagreement is generated, the process passes directly to civil headquarters, where a judge will determine how the division of assets would take place.
Therefore, when there is disagreement between the heirs, which usually happens when no will was granted before a Notary Public, the inheritance process must necessarily be carried out before a civil court, which can certainly generate complications to your loved ones, as the process can become very lengthy.
What are the advantages of establishing a Will?
- You can choose heirs the inheritance in the way that you best see fit.
- Avoid problems among family members, since they must agree on the distribution of goods if there was no will.
- The succession process is more agile and implies less economic cost.
- If I do not have children or relatives, I can name someone in specific and prevent inheritance from being handed over the state.
How do I know for sure that there will be no other contesting will in Costa Rica?
When a will is granted before a Notary Public in Costa Rica, the Notary Public has the obligation to submit the will for registration before the Notarial Archive, which ensures that only one valid will can exist in Costa Rica at a time.
Be sure to update the information in your will, should you change your mind on the distribution of your assets and heirs included.
What types of wills exist in Costa Rica?
In Costa Rica we have the Open Will and the Closed Will.
The Open Will is written before a Notary Public, with the presence of three witnesses, must be written in a public deed and signed by the presents, and the Notary Public must take the will to the National Archive, where it will be guarded to prevent someone from modifying it.
The Closed Will is written privately, signed and sealed, and it must be brought before a Notary Public with the presence of two witnesses. This type of will can only be opened after the death of the testator and before a civil judge.
What type of will should I choose?
We recommend that you establish an open will, it is safer, since the content of the will would be duly registered in the Notarial Archive, and thus avoiding any unnecessary conflicts.
In addition, the Notary Public can guide you when preparing your will, and therefore you could rest assured that it would comply with all the formalities necessary to avoid that in the future someone might contest the validity of your will.