Brooklyn, NY asked in Real Estate Law for Puerto Rico

Q: My mom owns a home in puerto rico damaged by Hurricane Maria. She wants to transfer deed to me. How and where do I start

I was recently at the house to clean. Lots of damage from the water throughout the inside of the house. She wants to put the house in my name...she still has a small balance on thd house to the bank

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2 Lawyer Answers
Ramon  Olivencia
Ramon Olivencia
  • San Juan, PR
  • Licensed in Puerto Rico

A: If your mother wants to transfer her house to you, she must sign a "donation" deed via an attorney, which both parties must sign. If one or the two of you cannot be present for the signing, then a Power of Attorney could be prepared. As part of the requirements for a donation, the attorney will first have to obtain a waiver from the Puerto Rico Treasury Department ("Departamento de Hacienda"), to make sure that there are no tax debts owed. If, on the other hand, the transfer involves a monetary exchange, that is, if she were to sell you the property, then a "sales" deed will have to be prepared instead.

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

A: Regardless of the physical state of the real estate property, I would start by recommending that your mother request a cancellation balance certification from the bank, as of the end of February 2024, to identify how small is the balance. Also, I would recommend procuring a registry certification from the Property Registry and a property tax balance from the Center for Municipal Income collection (CRIM, by its Spanish acronym). These steps determine what should be paid before proceeding to transfer ownership of the property.

Furthermore, does your mother have any other children? Is the house in her name alone? Or does she co-own it with another person?

With the information provided by the documents alluded above, the next step would be to prepare a donation deed, whereby your mother donates the property to you; and you accept it. However, if this house makes up a substantial amount of your mother's estate and you have other siblings, there is a high chance that your siblings may contest the donation now, or when your mother passes away, since it may be breaching their share of the estate.

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