Transfer of Inheritance

Inheritance Transfer (Puerto Rico)

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.

Inheritance without 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.

Inheritance with Will

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.

Is there anything to do at the Treasury Department?

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.

Where do you transfer the title to the house or apartment?

The next step is to go to the Land Registry. This only applies when there is real estate.

In case any of the heirs wishes to purchase the real property, a deed must also be prepared. Any other sale and purchase, particularly to a third person (who is not an heir), can be made only after after the inheritance proceedings have been completed.

After the transfer at the Property Registry, the corresponding change of ownership must be made at the Municipal Revenue Collection Center (Centro de Recaudación de Ingresos Municipales, CRIM). This is very important to avoid the accumulation of property taxes, to which the government adds interest and penalties. This is so even if the property had the tax exemption for being the main residence. This exemption can be lost upon death. However, if there are members of the same family unit residing, the exemption continues.

Can an heir renounce or disown the inheritance?

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.

What can I do if the deceased's bank account is frozen?

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 go to the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF). 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 the date on which 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.

What are the legal costs?

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.

We charge by the flat fee method, not by the hour. This way, you can know in advance so that there are no surprises or uncertainties. 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. Keep in mind that real estate taxes can begin to be computed as soon as the owner dies.

Conclusion

As you may have seen, the inheritance transfer process is complicated. Therefore, it is recommended that it be carried out by a lawyer or attorney who commonly works in this type of matters. It is not recommended that you do the process on your own as any mistakes will cost you money and additional work.

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

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

Finally, it is important that the transfer of inheritance begins promptly 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.

FOR AN EVALUATION, PLEASE FILL OUT THIS FORM:

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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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