Asked in Probate for Puerto Rico

Q: My brother has recently passed here in Puerto Rico and has left some credit card debts.

My brother was never married and he didn't leave a will. No one has ever cosigned for him. He doesn't own any property and was living in my Moms house. His only assets are his two bank accounts. One of the accounts paid the funeral expenses but there could be some money left in that account. The other bank account is with a different bank. I have all the credit cards he owned and have yet to call them because I don't know what info they can legally request from me. I also figure if I wait until after filing the probate case then I can give them the claim number. My question is: Given the above info, what paperwork will I need to present to the probate court? Also, I don't know the bank account numbers so is that something the court can obtain, or is it my responsibility to try to obtain them? Also, given the info I submitted here, would this case be too complicated for me to file on my own? Thanx.

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

A: First off, I regret your loss. Did your brother have any children? If not, are either or both of his (your) parents alive? If so, your parents would be his heirs. If your parents have passed, then you and any other siblings that you may have would be the heirs.

In order to file a Petition for Declaration of Heirs, your brother's death certificate is needed, as well as certifications from the Office of Notary Inspections, stating that (a) your brother left no will, and (b) no prior declaration of heirs has been filed before a Puerto Rico Notary. Should your brother have children, the birth certificate for each child must be produced. If you and your siblings are called to inherit, your birth certificates will be required. Once these documents are on hand, a Petition can be filed before a Puerto Rico court.

After the courts issue the Declaration of Heirs resolution, the next step would be to procure account certifications for the Puerto Rico banks (BPPR, Oriental, First Bank) for which your brother's social security # and the copy of his death certificate will be required.

With this information and the credit card statements, an estate tax form will need to be filed with the Puerto Rico Treasury Department (Hacienda) to verify that your brother owed no taxes. At this point in time, you would need to send the credit card statements, to determine your brother's estate's net worth (or deficit). Once Hacienda issues a tax waiver (assuming that your brother did not owe taxes), you take the waiver and the court resolution to the bank, where the heirs collect what money remains in the accounts.

Your brother's probate case is very doable.

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