Transfer of Inheritance

To explain the process of inheritance transfer in Puerto Rico, let's start with the basics. An inheritance consists of the transmission of the rights and obligations from a deceased person.

There are a number of steps to be taken when a person dies. The whole process can take several months so it is advisable to start as soon as possible. This way you will avoid additional paperwork and expenses.

First, the Death Certificatemust be obtained. As legal representatives we can obtain this document if the person died in Puerto Rico.

Second, it is necessary to verify if a Will was left, a matter that the lawyer performs in what is known as the Registry of Wills. The manner in which the inheritance is divided will depend on whether or not the deceased granted a Will.

If the deceased person did not prepare a WillIf the deceased person did not prepare a Will, it will be necessary to submit to the court a petition for a Declaration of Heirs. In this petition it will be stated under oath that the heirs are the persons included according to the order established by law. The first heirs are the children, so it will be necessary to attach the Birth Certificate of each one. On the other hand, if the person died after the new Civil Code of 2020, effective as of November 28, 2020, the surviving spouse also becomes an heir.

Likewise, for those who died after the new Civil Code of 2020, if they do not there is no children or surviving spouse, then the heirs will be the parents. In the absence of the latter, the siblings will inherit. It is important to note that, before passing to the next person entitled to inherit, it will be necessary to obtain the respective Death Certificates of those pre-deceased.

If the deceased left a Will, the estate will be divided as provided in that document. It is essential that, in order to be valid, the Will be prepared according to the laws of Puerto Rico.

The next step is to submit to the Puerto Rico Treasury Department what is called the Inheritance Estate Form. This form, also known as "Planilla de Herencia" is required only when there is real estate (e.g., houses, apartments, farms) or personal property (e.g., cars or bank accounts). However, the form will not be required if the deceased only left less than $15,000 in a financial institution.

Once the Treasury Department assesses the Form, it subsequently issues a Certification of Lien, better known as "Waiver from the Treasury Revenue". This Waiver is necessary for the heirs to receive the assets.

After completing the process described above on the Inheritance Estate Form, the next step is to go to the Property Registry. This only applies when there is real estate.

If one of the heirs wishes to buy the property, a deed must also be prepared. Any other sale or purchase, particularly to a third person (who is not an heir), can only be made after finalizing the inheritance process.

After the transfer at the Property Registry, the corresponding change of ownership must be made at the Municipal Revenue Collection Centre (CRIM). This is very important to avoid the accumulation of property taxes, to which the government adds interest and penalties. This is true even if the property had the tax exemption for being the main residence. This exemption is lost upon death. However, if the widow continues to live in the residence or there are minor children, the exemption continues.

Yes, any heir can give up or disown his or her share of an inheritance. It is important that such waiver or repudiation be in the form of a deed. In the alternative, it can also be waived in court if there is a previously established lawsuit about the inheritance.

When a financial institution learns that a customer has died, it is supposed to proceed immediately to freeze deposit funds. This is to protect the rights of the heirs but, at the same time, it can lead to major setbacks, especially in the case of a shared account. However, the law allows the withdrawal of up to a limited percentage of the funds to pay for funeral expenses, for example.

If the time elapsed since the last movement in the account exceeds five (5) years, then the funds are passed to the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF). The OCIF is the government agency responsible for administering such "unclaimed" funds from banks. Once at the OCIF, there is an established time limit for claiming the money, which varies from three (3) to ten (10) years, depending on when the freeze occurred.

In the case of credit unions and insurance companies, the agency in charge of handling unclaimed funds is the Public Corporation for Credit Union Supervision and Insurance (COSSEC) or the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCS), respectively.

For this reason, and much more, it is extremely important that you start working immediately on your inheritance case. At Abogado Notario Online we work quickly and professionally.

The legal costs of an inheritance vary depending on the circumstances of each case. It is not the same for a deceased person who left 3 real estate properties and 10 children versus someone who left only 1 house and 3 children, for example. This is why the only way we can evaluate your case is by filling out the form below on this page.

At Abogado Notario Online, we charge by the flat fee method, not by the hour. This way, you can know in advance so that there is no surprise or uncertainty. This is because we already know exactly the steps to be taken in each case. That is why the information you provide in the form on this page is so important.

As an online law firm, you don't have to leave your home. We work with clients through email. Therefore, if you live outside of PR, you will save on travel, lodging and meal expenses. In general, the faster you get started with your inheritance case, the greater the savings and the fewer the problems. Keep in mind that real estate taxes may begin to be computed as soon as the owner dies.


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As you can see, the inheritance transfer process is complicated. Therefore, it is recommended that it be done by an attorney who commonly works on these types of issues. It is not recommended that you do the process yourself as any mistakes will cost you money and additional work.

If you are outside of Puerto Rico, we can also prepare a Power of Attorney. This way you can be the legal representative of the other heirs.

At Abogado Notario Online, we take care of the entire inheritance transfer process. This includes obtaining all necessary certificates: Death, Birth and Marriage. We can also obtain, if applicable, the Divorce Decree or what is known as the Certificate of Divorce. This is as long as those documents are from Puerto Rico.

Finally, it is important that you promptly begin the transfer of inheritance to minimize the payment of taxes, particularly CRIM. Do not let your rights or assets be affected by lack of diligence or the passage of time. We work with attention, professionalism and speed for the benefit of our clients. For an estimate, or more information, please fill out the form below.



ATTENTION: The only way we can evaluate your case is through this form, which takes about 10-15 minutes. It is important that you answer all questions completely in order to make a preliminary examination and prepare an estimate (free of charge) as each case is different. Incomplete forms will not be considered. NOTICE: due to high costs and excessive length, we do not handle cases with pending litigation.


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