Making a Will in Brazil

The key information you need regarding inheritance law and will-making in Brazil...

While the making of wills is not a widespread practice in Brazil, any competent person can make one directing how their property - or any part thereof - should be distributed after death. A testator may revoke their will at any time.

A will can be made:

  1. As a public deed, in which case a notary public draws up the will, reads it out before two witnesses and the will is then executed.
  2. As a private document, in which case it is written, read out and executed before three witnesses. The law allows private wills to be written in any foreign language, provided that the elected language is understood by the three witnesses in attendance.

A will drawn up overseas is accepted in Brazil on the condition that it satisfies the requirements of the country in which it was drawn up and Brazilian law does not apply. Nevertheless, foreign nationals should consider making their wills locally, preferably as a public deed, for the following reasons:

  1. This will enable the testator to plan their succession and to prevent disputes between successors when assets are distributed.
  2. The validity of the will made overseas will not be open to consideration (the validity of a will is ascertained pursuant to the law of domicile of the deceased at the time of their death).
  3. This reduces considerably the scope for misinterpretation of the will in court.

In order to make a local will, the foreign national has to be in Brazil, and Brazilian law does not permit the last will to be declared by the deceased’s legal representatives or attorneys and third parties to decide on the contents of a will and on the probating thereof. The testator is the only person entitled to document their last will.

Assets in excess of the reserved portion may be freely bequeathed and so may the whole estate where there are no necessary heirs.

Information prepared by Renata Sanches, Esq., Suchodolski Advogados Associados Rua Augusta, 1819, 24th floor, 01413-000 São Paulo, Brazil Tel: (11) 3372 1300, Fax: (5511) 3372-1301 e-mail / Website