Asked in Family Law for Puerto Rico

Q: My father had his last will & testament notarized in Massachusetts. He lived in MA at the time of his death.

However, My father has 4 homes on one plot of land in PR. His last will & testament states that one child receives 70% of his estate and the other receives 30%. What is legally required next for the heirs to do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Rafael  Pagan-Colon
Rafael Pagan-Colon
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: Before addressing the matter of the estate left in Puerto Rico by your late father, a certified copy of your father's will, issued by a Massachusetts probate court, needs to be protocolized via a poll deed by a Notary authorized to practice Notary Law in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The protocolized document would then need to be registered with the Office of Notary Inspections (ODIN) here in Puerto Rico.

THAT being said, I perceive that your father may have partially incurred in pretermission of several of his heirs, which may nullify his will in Puerto Rico. Pretermission occurs when the person either omits a legal heir from his will ("preterición", in Spanish) or left less than what an heir has a legal right to receive, in which case, the stiffed heir may request a "complemento de legítima" before a competent court of law in Puerto Rico. To determine the validity of said will in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you need to consult a probate attorney authorized to practice law in that state.

If your father died prior to November 28, 2020, all the heirs have a right to participate in a third of your father's estate (called the "legitimate third" under the 1930 Puerto Rico Civil Code). However, if your father died after November 28, 2020, under the new Civil Code, your father's heirs have a right to a "legitimate half" of your late father's estate.

Mind you, should any of your father's heirs decide to pursue a lawsuit -and said heir is a resident of a state outside of Puerto Rico- he or she will need to post a bond as determined by the court, under Puerto Rico Rules of Civil Procedures.

Jose M. Rivera Santos agrees with this answer

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