Home Costa Rica Legal TopicsWills and Estates Understanding the Notary Probate Process in Costa Rica

Understanding the Notary Probate Process in Costa Rica

by rpetersen

Probate processes can be intricate and daunting, particularly when dealing with the legal systems of different countries. Costa Rica, with its unique approach to notary probate proceedings, offers an interesting case study. In this article, we’ll delve into the notary probate process in Costa Rica, providing insights into how it functions and what parties involved can expect.

The Involvement of a Notary is Optional

A key aspect of Costa Rican law is the optional involvement of a notary in the succession process. This choice offers flexibility to the parties involved, allowing them to decide whether they want to handle the probate process through a notary or through the courts.

Initiating the Notary Probate Process

The process begins with a formal request by any of the heirs or legatees to the notary public. This request is documented in an act that starts the probate process. This document also serves as the start of the internal probate case file and includes vital details such as the type of probate (testamentary or intestate), the identities of the presumptive heirs, and their agreement to the proceedings.

Unanimous Agreement Among Heirs

For a probate case to be processed before a notary, it’s essential that there is unanimous agreement among all interested parties. Any dissent or controversy requires that the matter be moved to a judicial setting. This unanimity ensures smooth proceedings and avoids potential legal disputes.

The notary’s role is contingent on unanimous agreement among interested parties. Any disagreement, even if minor, requires the process to be transferred to the judicial system. This mechanism ensures that any significant disputes are adequately resolved in a more formal setting.

Proof of Death and Summons

The process requires a death certificate of the deceased. In its absence, the notary certifies the death based on civil registry records. Following this, the notary publishes and summons interested parties, allowing them a 15-day period to assert their rights, an essential step to ensure all stakeholders are informed and have an opportunity to participate.  This publication must be done in the official government newspaper – El Boletin Judicial

Role of the Executor

In Costa Rica, the role of the executor is pivotal in managing the estate until its final division. The executor can either be named in the will or appointed by the notary. This role involves managing the estate, adhering to agreements made by heirs, and potentially being removed if conflicts of interest arise.

Inventory and Appraisal

The executor is responsible for presenting a written inventory of assets to the notary. Following this, an expert is appointed for appraisal, with strict criteria to ensure impartiality and competence. This step is crucial for accurately valuing the estate before division.

Division and Disbursement of the Estate

After paying off liabilities and fulfilling legal obligations, the heirs determine the division of the estate. The agreements regarding division are formally documented in the succession file. For assets that need to be registered in public records, a public deed is required.

Legal Equivalence of Notarial Actions

In Costa Rica, actions taken by notaries in probate matters are legally equivalent to those conducted by judicial officials. This equivalence provides legal certainty and recognition to the notary probate process.

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