Inheritance laws around the world tend to vary quite a bit. It’s important to remember that whether you’re making a will or inheriting possessions or real estate.
If you live in the U.S., you might believe that Puerto Rico inheritance law is the same as the United States’. After all, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, right?
It is, but things aren’t that simple. There are some key facts you should know about Puerto Rico’s inheritance laws. Read on to learn more!
1. Puerto Rico Uses Forced Heirs
If you’ve never heard of this before, then now is the time to become educated. Forced heirship means that children, grandchildren or direct descendants are guaranteed some part of the inheritance.
If there are no children or grandchildren, then parents are also included as forced heirs.
2. Puerto Rico Inheritance Law Operates By Thirds
Under Puerto Rico inheritance law, one-third of the inheritance is equally split between the forced heirs. Another third is doled out according to the wishes of the testator (the person leaving the inheritance), but this too goes to the heirs. It’s simply up to the testator whether it will be an equal distribution or not.
The last third is available to be given to whoever the testator wishes.
It’s a much different system than many people from other countries are used to. Do your research now and don’t let it take you by surprise.
3. Spouses Do Not Become Forced Heirs
This is extremely important to remember. Upon the death of a spouse, the widow does not become one of the forced heirs. He or she is not entitled to an inheritance that would go to a forced heir.
However, without forced heirs, the spouse would inherit the estate of their deceased husband or wife.
4. Real Estate Is Subject To Puerto Rican Law
Whether the owner was a Puerto Rican national or a foreigner, real estate is subject to Puerto Rican real estate law and probate law. It doesn’t matter what the laws of foreign governments say. The inheritance of real estate is always executed by Puerto Rican courts.
5. But Personal Property Is Not
However, personal property is viewed in a different light. Foreign courts may render decisions about the inheritance rights of individuals. It’s then up to the Puerto Rican courts to execute those decisions.
So it’s essentially the opposite of real estate inheritance. Keep that in mind when writing a will or attempting to claim your inheritance.
Remember To Take Care Of Your Loved Ones
Puerto Rican inheritance law can be confusing to those who aren’t familiar with it. So it’s essential that you create a will that dictates your wishes. Without one, your estate may be inherited in ways you didn’t intend.
With the difference in laws, you’d be wise to hire a probate attorney when inheritance is on the line. At Lampon & Associates, we help property owners who don’t reside in Puerto Rico with the ins and outs of inheritance law.
Call today if you need help with inherited property or the transfer of other assets.