Asked in Family Law and Probate for Puerto Rico

Q: Is my dad’s second wife entitled to half the house he owned in Rincon, PR?

My dad passed away and he owned a house in Rincon, PR. The house was bought between my dad and mom. My mom passed away about 20 years ago. A “Declaration of inheritance” was done at that time because my mother did not have a will. My dad remarried about 14 years ago and passed away this year. My dad and his wife never lived in PR while married. I, his daughter took care of the house, paid all utilities. We are 3 sisters in total. My dad left a will, he put his second wife in the will. Can we, the daughters contest the will? We believe our dad was manipulated by his second wife to put her in the will. Thank you!

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

A: A recent Puerto Rico Civil Code came into effect as of November 28, 2020 by Public Law no. 55 of June 1, 2020. In this version, the widow is entitled to an equal share of the deceased's estate, same as the deceased's children. Thus, the answer to your question is that your dad's second wife is entitled to an equal share of the estate. The Puerto Rico Civil Code also establishes that the widow may enjoy her share of the estate by living the primary residence that belonged to your dad while alive. This is the general rule. If your dad left a will, regardless of when he made his will, the current Civil Code provides for him dividing his estate in two halves: (a) a legitimate half, divided up in equal parts among his heirs (including his second wife); and (b) a free disposition half whom he can leave to anyone he so chose.

That being said, your dad's second wife must also be proportionally responsible for the maintenance of the estate and for addressing estate debts and liabilities in equal measure to her hereditary interest in your late dad's estate. Meaning: as long as you've kept receipt of all the expenditures in which you've incurred to upkeep the property/properties, your entitled to a credit equal to the shares that the other heirs should've assumed.

Regarding your belief that your dad may have been manipulated, the Rule of Law in Puerto Rico assumes that every adult has the legal and mental capacity to administrate his/her person and his/her property according to his preferences, so long as these preferences do not clash against the law. Regardless of whether or not your assessment is correct, it's too late to challenge your dad's capacity through the legal system. I do wish you the best.

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