Declaration of Heirs – Time as Your Enemy
As a real estate lawyer, I am regularly presented with a scenario that looks somewhat like this: “My grandmother passed away many years ago. She had 6 children, one of which was my father who recently passed away. Of my 5 uncles, only one is alive. Some of my deceased uncles had children. What do I need to do to claim my inheritance?” Another question could be: What do the heirs need to do to sell the property?
The simple answer is: “You are going to sit tight and wait, because we (the lawyers) have to do a lot of work!”
In example above, there are a total of 6 estates which would need to be worked on. This will normally take time for many reasons. First, there are a lot of documents to be gathered. Second, coordinating with a large amount of heirs is usually (not always) difficult. If the heirs reside outside of Puerto Rico and are not in tight communication, further complications would be present. As a final note, money normally becomes an issue since more money would need to be disbursed in a shorter period of time.
Time then is an enemy under such circumstances. Hence, the contrary is also true: Time is an ally when heirs act promptly.
The situation I described above is easily avoidable. Indeed I totally understand that heirs need to care for the family; but all considerations aside, they should act promptly to place all estate matters in order.
Santiago F. Lampón
Lawyer and Notary Public