If you have assets in Costa Rica you also need a will in Costa Rica. A will from another country is no good for your Costa Rican assets.
Thousands of retirees move to Costa Rica every year and do not plan to die here. If you move to Costa Rica to retire, there is a good chance you will die here. This can create an incredible amount of problems that nobody realizes until it is too late.
In this blog, I will try to cover legal aspects like a will in Costa Rica and probate. I am not an attorney, I describe everything from the point of view of a real estate broker in Costa Rica. For legal consults, contact a lawyer in Costa Rica.
When you read this article about a will in Costa Rica, do not call us to take care of the remains of your beloved ones. We are a real estate MLS, not a funeral home. If the deceased owns a property in Costa Rica that needs to be sold or rented, we can assist. We have the solutions for you.
When you purchase a property in Costa Rica or any other assets, like a car or a business, you should talk to your attorney to draft your will or testament in Costa Rica. The will you might have in another country has no value here until you go through a legal process to get it registered.
Your assets inside and outside Costa Rica
It is recommended to have a will in Costa Rica for the assets you have in Costa Rica to save trouble, money and time.
For many years it was customary to put assets in a Costa Rican corporation, so the shares of the corporation could be endorsed and kept in a safe deposit box. But since the creation of the corporation tax, many are having their assets in their own name or all together in just one corporation.
A will in Costa Rica, according to the Costa Rican civil code, must be drafted in Spanish. It must be signed in the presence of a Notary Public and 3 witnesses.
If you do not read Spanish then the will must also be signed by at least 2 other witnesses who can translate the will for you.
A will in Costa Rica can also be executed without a Notary Public if it is handwritten by the testator and witnessed by at least 4 witnesses.
If you do not have a will in Costa Rica and you pass away, your heirs will have to go through probate in the Costa Rican court system. This is sucesión or mortual in Spanish. This can take anywhere between 6 months and 2 years. Attorney Roger Peterson told me there are several options for a solution. I recommend you personally contact Roger or your own attorney. Drafting a will in Costa Rica before you pass away is definitely much easier
For your information, Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills are not legal in Costa Rica.
A foreign will
Do you have a foreign will has to be executed in Costa Rica? Then you have to go through the following steps:
1. You have to obtain a judgment from a Costarican probate court that recognizes as valid the conveyance of the specific property in Costa Rica to the specific beneficiary (ies).
2. This judgment needs to be certified by the issuing court.
3. This judgment has to be authenticated by the Costarican consul nearest to your hometown.
4. This judgment has to be officially translated from your language into Spanish. That needs to be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Relations in San Jose.
5. An attorney in Costa Rica has to apply for recognition of the foreign judgment. This has to go through a process called “exequatur” at the 1st Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice.
6. Begin a new probate process in civil court with territorial jurisdiction over the Costa Rica estate in question.
Next week I will tell you all about options for funeral homes, cemeteries, and cremation as well as repatriation of the deceased.