last will testament costa rica lawyers

Last Will and Testament in Costa Rica

Oct 27, 2023 | Blog, Articles

As part of complying with our mission of protecting your interests, Lawyers of Costa Rica works with you closely in preparing a legal document: a last will and testament or simply known as a will; in which you state how to divide the assets resulting from your life’s work dedication.

Why Is It Important to Make a Will in Costa Rica?

Having a will set up is unquestionably a responsible and caring action in favor of your loved ones. You do not have to wait until you get older or start thinking about retirement. This is true for national citizens, but also for foreigners who have lived in the country for a significant amount of time.

The right moment to organize your will is now, and the benefits are countless. One of the main objectives of your hard work has been to ensure a satisfactory future for your family. But, if you are an expat who has built a business and possesses important assets here in Costa Rica, you also need to make sure that those assets are protected under our legislation.

At Lawyers of Costa Rica, as your legal advisors, we have the obligation to recommend this secure route. It must be kept in mind that in some instances the laws or jurisdictions differ from one state to the other in many countries like the United States; so you can only imagine how different they are between Costa Rica and your country of origin. Especially because Costa Rica is a Civil Law tradition country, which can generate disputes and ambiguity if you come from countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States, for example; all of them are Common Law tradition countries. Hence, if you feel that the will issued in your country of origin already protects your assets there, you are completely right. That is not the case though for whatever you have put together here in Costa Rica.

We, at Lawyers of Costa Rica, have already made the research regarding the number of successful cases where one probate proceeding (a judicial procedure known as exequatur), from the United States, was executed in Costa Rica with success and came to a petty result: there has been only one.

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What Are the Dangers of Not Having a Last Will and Testament?

Historically, ex-pats living in Costa Rica have been facing the same problem, that is, the lack of a Costa Rican last will to protect local assets; which translates into the unlikelihood of passing the inheritance to their chosen successors or beneficiaries. Exequaturs can be processed exclusively by the Supreme Court of Costa Rica; therefore, heirs find themselves spending big amounts of money and valued time filing proceedings that may have negative or no results at all when there has not been a valid will issued prior to the benefactor’s death. One of the risks, in such cases, is that the deceased person’s properties or businesses may end up in the wrong hands against his or her wishes.

Is It Complicated to Get a Will for an Expat in Costa Rica?

Fortunately, issuing a will not only takes very little work, but it is also reasonably priced, and a simple probate proceeding that must be done by a Notary Public (in cases when all successors are of legal age and mentally capable, and there is no dispute between them in relation to the inheritance), and a will here can even be jointly issued by spouses. Thus, once the last will and testament have been issued by our specialists at Lawyers of Costa Rica, you and your loved ones can be assured that the legacy that you have worked so hard on is protected under the corresponding laws. After that, your will gets filed immediately in the National Arcade of Costa Rica (Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica). This public institution is the one in charge of registering all wills and testaments; this means that the beneficiaries can review the document there even in the cases when the attorney who issued it cannot be reached or cannot be present at that particular moment.

Let us do the work for you and guarantee the protection of all your investments and assets. At Lawyers of Costa Rica, it is our mission to help you prevent unfortunate conflicts and be prepared for the inevitable. For additional information on how to issue your last will and testament, please contact us. Lawyers of Costa Rica, a Costa Rican law firm that delivers expert legal advice for your security.

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