Frederick, MD asked in Real Estate Law and Probate for Puerto Rico

Q: My uncle passed and left no will, no children, and no spouse. His brothers filed a declaration of inheritance.

The brothers have been named the heirs. Does that now make them legally responsible to pay the mortgage on the house he owned? If they do not pay the mortgage and let the bank foreclose will their credit be affected?

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

A: Succession Rule of Law in Puerto Rico states that your late uncle's estate is made up of his assets and his liabilities. Therefore, any mortgages and liens on real estate property would also have to be assumed by your late uncle's siblings. If the outstanding debts exceed the estate's assets, each sibling can repudiate the inheritance. HOWEVER, if all of the siblings repudiate, their children (your cousins) will inherit in their own right.

Your uncle's siblings must complete the probate process, filing a copy of the declaration of heirs with the Property Registry to have them register the surviving siblings' hereditary rights in the real estate process. If and when a bank decides to proceed with foreclosure of a liened property, they will have to serve your late uncle's heirs in order to proceed with the mortgage execution, and call them out to either accept or reject the inheritance. Those that accept the inheritance can negotiate to have the property sold via short sale to rid themselves of the lien.

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