Houston, TX asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Puerto Rico

Q: Can a property that is co-owned and one of the owners pass away be sold without consulting the deceased family?

After my father’s death in 2001, five months later his friend decided to sell the property without notifying our family, but many years later 2022 we noticed that was done. Is there’s any advice to pursuing this or is to late? This happened in Puerto Rico.

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

A: I'm assuming that your argument implies that said property (whether real estate or not) belonged in life to your late father; and that the sale was somehow illicit. Without additional information, it is difficult to address your question. If the property you speak of is real estate, you could approach the public Property Registry to scrutinize the history of the property, Not knowing the circumstances of your father's death nor whether he granted (or not) his last will & testament, there is no way to determine whether or not your father sold or donated the property to the person that sold it five months later. Was a declaration of heirs presented before a court of law?

I can say that, were the property sold a real estate property, the Registry would not inscribe a transfer of ownership unless the person doing the selling was him/herself recognized as the owner.

If said property was not real estate (say, for example, a motor vehicle or furniture or art) it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine what may have occurred twenty years prior.

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