Do I need a Last Will and Testament in Costa Rica?
If you are going to own any assets in Costa Rica, it is important to have a Costa Rican Will. Although the courts will accept a Will from another country, it can take months for it to be approved, before releasing your properties to your heirs. Whoever is executing your requests, will already have a lot on their hands, handling your estate, dealing with your burial etc. Without a Costa Rican Will, your beneficiary must fly down to Costa Rica and present your U.S.A. or Canada Will to a Costa Rican Probate Court. The court will obviously want to confirm that the document is valid and legal and that your death was real and not faked. Think about it; what a great scam. Showing up in another country with a bogus Will claiming you are the heir of someone’s home or land. This can take anywhere from 3 months to a year, depending on different circumstances. If you have no Will at all, it can take years to work its way through the Probate court. In the meantime, your beneficiaries will have no way to legally sell, rent or handle your properties or your bank accounts.
If you have a Last Will and Testament executed in Costa Rica in front of an attorney and notary, the process is very simple. It can be almost immediate. So I advise all my clients, to set this up from the very beginning when they purchase their first property. The attorney handling the closing can also prepare this document for a very reasonable fee. In your file back home, you should have a copy of this document, along with your attorney’s information. You should also have your real estate agents contact information and any bank accounts and property managers’ information as well.
This way, in the unfortunate event of your death, it will be very easy for your heir to contact the attorney, gain access to the paperwork and legal ownership of the deed. They can talk to your real estate agent about the current value of the property, and also know who is handling the care of your property.
It is sad enough that you are no longer with us, but at least you can leave knowing that your heir will not have any difficulties obtaining ownership of your assets.