Attorney in Costa Rica

Estate Planning in Costa Rica.

As an estate planning attorney, I can help you with your last will and testament and probate procedures.  Wills and trusts are essential tools for estate planning in Costa Rica. They allow individuals to plan for the distribution of their property and assets after their death and can also be used for tax planning and asset protection. In addition, wills and successions are essential aspects of civil law in Costa Rica, as they govern the distribution of a person’s property and assets after death. 

Succession law is governed by the Civil Code and the Notary Public Law, which establish the rules for drafting and executing wills in Costa Rica, as well as the rules for the distribution of a deceased person’s property and assets among their heirs.  As a family attorney, I can´t stress how important this is to avoid giving your loved ones a headache later on with unwarranted litigation.

 
 
Estate planning attorney in Costa Rica for a succession and a last will and testament and probate lawyer

Estate planning with a last will and testament:

A last will and testament, is a legal document allowing a person to specify how their property and assets will be distributed after death. An open will must be drafted before a notary public, and witnesses. It must also be registered in the National Archive. The person who makes the will must be of legal age, have a sound mind and freely express their will. I can be revoked or changed at any time as long as the person who made it can do so.

Estate planning with trusts:

A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds legal title to property for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. In Costa Rica, trusts are not commonly used. Still, it’s possible to create a trust by using a Fideicomiso (trust agreement), which can be helpful in estate planning and asset protection. A Fideicomiso is Spanish for “trust.”  

The testator stipulates his last will in the trust, and all assets are transferred to the trustee.  This is what´s called imperfect ownership.  Even though the trustee appears as the owner, it´s only as per the trust itself.  This means the trustee´s personal assets are legally separated from the trust assets.  

A theoretical example for a trust for your succession:

Say you have real estate property and you want it to pass on to your son, after death.  You draft the open last will and testament with the notary public of your choice.  In it you establish that a trust will be put in place, so that the trustee wil transfer your assets to the designated heirs as per your last will and testament.  

The trust is made, and the property is transferred to the trustee in that capacity.  When you die, as per the trust´s instructions, said property is transmitted by the trustee, to the heir as per the last will and testament:  in this case, your son.    For successions, trusts are a good option since the property remains in the fideicomiso and is transferred by the trustee, to the beneficiaries (heirs), upon the condition of death. 

Trusts are options your estate planning attorney may recommend:

Trusts can be valuable tools your estate planning attorney may recommend because they allow individuals to transfer their property and assets to their beneficiaries without going through the probate or judicial succession process, which can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, trusts can be used for tax planning and asset protection, as they can help to reduce taxes and protect assets from creditors. However, it’s worth noting that trusts and Fideicomisos are not widely used in Costa Rica, and the regulations and laws surrounding them can be complex. So, you’re looking for legal advice from a lawyer or a notary public if you’re considering creating a trust or Fideicomiso.

Notes on Succession Law in Costa Rica:

Under Costa Rican law, a person can distribute their property in any way they choose, but there are also certain legal rights for certain people such as the surviving spouse and children, regarding child support and alimony if applicable. If a person dies without a will, their property will be distributed according to the succession laws.  Succession law in Costa Rica establishes the order of inheritance, and it establishes that certain heirs have a right to a portion of the deceased person’s property and assets. The first in line are the children, and spouse, and then the parents. If there are no descendants, spouse or parents the assets will go to the siblings.

The probate process in Costa Rica:

The probate process in Costa Rica is the legal process of settling a deceased person’s estate, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. This process involves identifying and collecting the deceased person’s assets, paying off any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of a will or the laws of succession.
The probate process in Costa Rica is governed by the Civil Code and the Notary Public Law, which establish the rules for administrating a deceased person’s estate. The probate process is carried out by a notary public, who ensures that the process is carried out under the law. However, conflict may arise in the probate process, and if this happens, then the Civil Courts carry out the succession.

probate process in Costa Rica initiated by an estate planning attorney succession

In conclusion:

In summary, wills and successions in Costa Rica are governed by the Civil Code and the Notary Public Law, which establish the rules for drafting and executing a last will and testament and for the distribution of a deceased person’s property and assets among their heirs. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a valid will in place to ensure that your property and assets are distributed according to your wishes, and it’s recommended to seek legal advice for this matter. 

Dr. Christopher Pirie Gil.

Estate planning attorney.

probate process in Costa Rica initiated by an estate planning attorney succession

Contact Chris as your legal advisor.