Freeport, NY asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Puerto Rico

Q: Do you have any right to widow inheritance or fee in Puerto Rico if you are not living with your spouse for 30 years?

My father died in PR. He and my mom were legal married but separated only by common law, ages ago. About 30 plus years. She lived in ny and he travrlled. She did not remarry or have any other kids however he did have one son by another woman he was with for a long time under common law. My mother and father never divorced and there was no legal separation agreement. They just didnt live together anymore in the same house etc for basically my whole life. Does my mother still have any right to widows share of my fathers propery or assets? I say no, my sister says maybe. I figured to ask for general info.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nelson Jose Francisco Alvarez-Aponte
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Carolina, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: Good evening and thank you for using JUSTIA. In Puerto Rico a marriage can only be ended two ways thatis by death and by divorce. Thus your mom by virtue of civil law is the legal widow and does have inheritance rights of half of your fathers estate since all purchases and net gains during marriage are of marital property. When one gets married the couple automatically creates a marital property society which means that all properties, goods and net gains or losses belong to the marital society until divorce. There are only two exceptions in law. One is that the purchase was done with peŕsonal funds not belonging to the marital society or that prior to the celebration of the marriage there was a prenuptial agreement signed by the parties . A persons income is not personal so it is of the marital society. As a widow fifty percent of the entire marital society belongs to her in addition to a widows quota over the other fifty percent that now belongs to the children (inheritors) of your father. A thirty year seperation does not render a marriage ended . Only a court of law, Notary Public or death of a spouse can render a marriages end.

Now one could argue that a thirty year seperation should have a bearing on the marital society and the rights over the goods however the rule of law is clear eventhough a Judge does have judicial freedom to rule on the basis of equity (fairness). A Judge could rule that it is unfair to assign half of all goods to a widow who has not contributated to the marital society for the past thirty years. Nevertheless she remains the widow and has rights in the estate thus rights in the inheritance what ever the value may be of said rights.

Get a lawyer to fight for her rights. Please feel free to contact me if you need addition assistance with this or any other legal matter in Puerto Rico.

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