Retiring to Nicaragua? Don’t forget to translate your will

During the first three weeks of January I went to three funerals, deeply touched by each one and unexpected, as well. Because I am close to those families they asked me regarding the properties of the deceased. In any of those cases the persons that passed away had a Will & Testament.

Because there is lack of information about this topic, I would like to share some comments with readers of The Nicaragua Dispatch.

First of all, I must say the Wills from abroad are accepted in Nicaragua, however they must be legalized (Apostille or Authenticated) depending the country of origin; and they have to be translated too. The USA for example is part of the Hague Convention for public documents; therefore documents have to be Apostille to be accepted in Nicaragua. Others countries like Canada are not part of the Hague Convention for public documents, therefore those documents have to be Authenticated in the country of origin and Authenticated in Nicaragua as well.

A Will from abroad, should be prepared according to the customs and laws of the country of origin. For example in the USA a Will is usually less formal than in Nicaragua and if a foreigner is living in Nicaragua or has Real Estate properties it will more convenience is to prepare a Will & Testament in Nicaragua which will include the information and description of the property according the Nicaraguan notary system, which will be accepted by the authorities in the future – some time ago I received an email from somebody saying his father dies in Nicaragua and he know his father has a property in Nicaragua but he didn´t know what kind of property and where was located.-

The problem will be, at the time that somebody dies without a Will, the heirs have to start a process in Court. The procedure to be able to transfer the property or proprieties to the heirs is, a Judge has to declare who is or are the heirs.

Children, for example have the same rights, even if the parents are married or not. Therefore if the Judge has to declare the heirs, according to the law the Judge will declare to the children with equal rights, and equal percentage on the property or properties. Under the contrary if someone has a Will, properties will be transferred to the person or persons stated in the Will, the law states the Will or Testament includes the last wishes of the person.

It is imperative to know that, any Power of Attorney in Nicaragua – POA – would not be accepted if somebody dies. At this time the POA will “die,” too. It doesn’t have any value or effect any more, even if it was issued in Nicaragua.

Another topic that everybody must know is the transfer tax will be paid at the time that the properties are transferred to the heirs.

Finally, for foreigners who live in Nicaragua or have Real Estates properties in Nicaragua, it is my advice to prepare a Will & Testament in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan Will & Testament must fulfill the Nicaraguan requirements according the Nicaraguan law, and notified to your family abroad & in Nicaragua.


About Paul Tiffer
Paul Tiffer

I am a Nicaraguan Attorney at law at TIFFER & ASSOCIATES. As a Corporative lawyer I am involved in different areas of practice, included but not limited to: Corporative and business law, Immigration & Residency, Real Estates purchases, and Banking law. I am also a Public Notary authorized by the Nicaraguan Supreme Court of Justice. I have been working with foreign clients since 1998, providing distinguish services to Corporations and Individuals that have come to Nicaragua to retire, or invest in projects as businesses, or NGOs. I like to share information online, writing articles of interest for potential visitors or for people that had moved to Nicaragua in order to help them with a smooth adaptation to this country. As someone who lived two years in Spain doing a Master’s degree in Business Law and doctorate courses I understand how lack of information might affect someone.

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