Posted by & filed under Inheritance Law.

Hello, welcome to Puerto Rico Legal Video Blog. My name is Santiago Lampón and I am lawyer and notary in Puerto Rico.

In this post, I am going to go over Puerto Rico Forced Heirs Law. “HEIRS” as in H-E-I-R-S.  OK? I sometimes do that my pronunciation it come across the right way.

Under Puerto Rico Heirs Laws its completely different to most of the states throughout the United States and even other countries with the exception of Spain and maybe some others.  I am going to talk to you about Puerto Rico and what I see commonly in my practice when people from the United States and Canada and other countries come to me and say:  “Oh Mr. Lampón, look I have children, my parents, I have been married two or three times, and my wife I have children which I am not the father, and I have children and she is not the mother, these kind of complexities that are the result of living life.”  No judgments, just facts.

What happens with my condo and my second home and my beach houses in Puerto Rico when I pass away?

Well, we have a forced heirs law and I am going draw (please watch video) a little bit what that means.

You have a husband; you have a wife, and under Puerto Rico Forced Heirs Laws first in line will be the children. Number one in the agenda. You cannot exclude your children from your probate, from your estate.

Now, this is going to come as a surprise to many of you watching out there, WHY? Because what I commonly see is that: “well, you know what, I want my wife to have my home or her home or her second home so that, when I pass away or when she passes away, we in fact continue enjoying the house, it’s our beach house, and we come here during the winter so we avoid the cold.”

That’s very nice, that’s all very “cute” I guess or very appropriate for husband and wife, and that may be allowable under some laws Massachusetts, California, whatever: I am not saying that in those states you can specifically do that but, under Puerto Rico law children come first. You have to give something to your children.

The first thing that happens is that whatever you own, it will be automatically–if you are married–it will automatically become a 50% / 50%situation.

If you have a prenup (short for “prenuptial agreement”) issued in the United States, we are going to have to take a look at it. If you have a prenup in Puerto Rico we are going to have to take a look at it, because the mere fact that you have a prenup doesn’t mean it automatically provides what people think about when there is a prenup; but that is the subject for another video.

The thing is that, the first thing that will happen is that there is an automatic division and we will go into probate is that estate of the person.  Your spouse will reserve, will keep 50% of the interest of the property automatically if his or her name appears on the deed. There are other rights that he or she may have, but I am not going to go over those right now; but it is important that he or she may have other rights.

So your children comes first. They are the first to be included. Number one, is inheritance and there are some minimum requirements. It doesn’t mean they have to get it all. They do have to get a majority of it and by the way to get it with them if you have grandchildren you can actually benefit your grandchildren even more than your children.   The important thing is downwards protection, the purpose as seen on the Puerto Rico law, the purpose of the husband and the wife but most importantly of the father and a mother is to provide for the future of the children. Inheritance law in Puerto Rico is created to provide for that future.

Yes there are ways around it, yes there are ways to provide for that future without your property being… “taken away from your spouse” but that has to be looked at as something you have to work on today so that it is organized for the future; and if you don’t have children you know who becomes the number one person in line? Your parents.

Now imagine your surviving spouse in joint ownership of a property in Puerto Rico with your parents. Maybe yes, maybe no. I do not know.  That’s for you to look at but the important thing here is if you are watching this video, and since you are looking at the future and that there may be a problem in the future, the number one recommendation that I can give you is to plan for it today.

The way I recommend that this be done is that you use your estate lawyer, the lawyer that you use to do your estate planning in the US in conjunction with a Puerto Rico lawyer and working asset you can predict the future.

I am sorry to say. I like to be straightforward. One of these days, you, me, anybody is going to pass away. That is inevitable. So why not plan for it?  OK?

That’s it for now. You have watched Puerto Rico legal video blog, and again my name is Santiago Lampón, lawyer and notary in Puerto Rico, and I am here to give you the basics of Puerto Rico in a simple understandable way and I hope I have done that with you. Thank you.