Is your foreign will valid in Costa Rica ?

It is increasingly common to find a situation where a citizen of one country has a will drafted in their home country but they have also acquired real estate and other assets in Costa Rica. What happens if you die in the foreign country leaving assets in Costa Rica ?

According to Article 905 of the Costa Rican Code of Civil Procedure if a Costa Rican or foreign citizen that is domiciled outside of Costa Rica leaves assets located in Costa Rica there is a process to recognize a foreign proceeding. If the probate case was filed in the foreign domicile then all the findings and judgments of the foreign court will be recognized in Costa Rica. To assert the validity of those foreign judgments the applicant will have to publish notice in the judicial bulletin for thirty days and then start a foreign judgment recognition action known as an Exequatur.

Should I have a Costa Rican Will?

An alternative in estate planning is to have will in Costa Rica, separate from any existing wills in a foreign country, which would be limited to disposition of the assets located within Costa Rica. This way, the local assets are probated with the local will, avoiding the judgment recognition (homologation) proceeding or interpretation of a foreign will. You need to be very cautious with this approach and it must be carefully analyzed by your legal advisor in conjunction with the will that you have in your home country. Most wills have revocation clauses and you want to make sure that one will is not revoking the other.