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Your Life Insurance and Will in Costa Rica

For proper estate planning in Costa Rica, we recommend both a Will and Life Insurance.


Can I use my foreign, Will?


Different rules apply in Costa Rica than they do in your native country. An “exequatur” recognition act can only recognize your foreign will. The steps involved in this time-intensive and costly procedure are as follows:

  1. Get a judgment from the probate court in the country where the Will was written.
  2. Apostille the judgment from the foreign court so Costa Rica can authenticate it for use.
  3. Have the documents validated by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and formally translated into Spanish.
  4. Hire a lawyer to represent you when you apply for recognition before the Supreme Court’s First Chamber.
  5. Start an abbreviated probate procedure in Costa Rica. This part of the process might take as long as 2 to 3 years to finalize!


Even with these procedures in place, you may come down to Costa Rica and find out that your inheritance has already been granted to the lawyer or whoever is currently occupying the property. An occupant of the property, if gone unrecognized for long enough, could eventually turn into a squatter’s rights fiasco. 


Example: A story of a citizen from the USA


One of our clients from the United States passed away, leaving behind his wife and two children. Even though the spouse served as a secondary signatory on the account in Costa Rica, you cannot have two bank account owners as there are no joint bank accounts here with two proprietors. Once the spouse informed the bank of the official account owners passing, the bank immediately froze the account, which left the family unable to access their funds. Resolving an issue like this could take years, which also means you must be present in Costa Rica for all court appearances when summoned, and these summonses can be given with very short notice.

When a person passes away, the requirement to pay interest on secured loans, such as a mortgage, highlights the vital necessity for life insurance, which the example individual sadly did not possess. In the event that payments are missed, the mortgage loan enters arrears, and the foreclosure procedure starts. Even if a private lender grants you more time from the kindness of their heart, as he did in this instance, there is only so long they will wait for the borrower’s partner to come up with a resolution.

The last thing you want to do is make critical financial decisions that can impact you and your children in the spur of the moment while you are still grieving the loss of a loved one. You may be required to sell the home as quickly as possible after the foreclosure process starts. Without a proper Will in place beforehand, selling your home won’t be possible until after the lengthy and pricey probate procedure.

In addition to interest accumulation and late payment penalties, the statement would now include charges associated with the foreclosure. The whole expense of the circumstance rises as a result. In the end, there aren’t many choices outside selling the property in a rush for a less-than-intended sum to pay for these expenses.

A Will and Life Insurance would likely have prevented this entire series of misfortunate events. Even if you don’t qualify for life insurance, for instance, by being older than the maximum age requirement, merely having a Costa Rican Will done by a proper notary should speed up the probate process and provide your spouse access to your assets so they can prepare an exit strategy and pay off your obligations.


Our solution for you


We never want to see anyone in the predicament we just mentioned.

Our sister company, CRIE (Costa Rica Immigration Experts), has contacts such as independent attorneys, notaries, and insurance agents who can help you get the right Will and Life Insurance policy.

Contact CRIE now for a complimentary introductory consultation and referral.


-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of Grupo Gap)

+506 8500-2085


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