Wills and Inheritance Law in Colombia
Find out how living in Colombia affects your inheritance rights, and the most appropriate type of will for your situation...
Will and Inheritance Law in Colombia is regulated under the Civil Code, establishing the procedures by which the estate of the decease is transferred to its heirs. This procedure is known as a succession. In a succession, Inheritance Law must prevail, and a Will may dictate the division of the estate only after legal requirements have been satisfied.
Under these circumstances, those who receive an inheritance from a succession are called heirs. Individuals who receive assets without legal claim to them, but through a will, receive what is called a legacy.
Inheritance Law establishes a number of conditions, written in the Colombian Civil Code, which determine the succession of the assets by law. These conditions take precedence over the instructions given in any will and testament of the deceased.
- First hereditary order: The first heirs by law are the children of the deceased, whether they are legitimate, illegitimate or adopted, who will receive equal shares of the estate
- Second hereditary order: When a person leaves no children, the inheritance will be divided between ascendants of close degree: parents or adoptive parents
- Third hereditary order: When a person leaves no descendants or ascendants, the inheritance will be divided between the siblings and spouse. When there are no siblings, the spouse receives the inheritance, and when there is no spouse, the siblings receive the inheritance. Full siblings receive double the shares of half siblings
- Fourth and fifth hereditary order: When there are no children, parents, spouse or siblings, the inheritance may be received by the children of the siblings. If there are none, the ICBF (Colombian Institute for Family Welfare) receives the inheritance
Foreigners and Nationals
When the heirs of an estate are foreigners, they are invited to attend the succession and may be either present in person or represented. They receive their shares according to the same rules as nationals.
In a succession of the Colombian estate of a foreign national who dies in or out of Colombian territory, the members of the succession have the same rights to inheritance or conjugal share that are provided by the current Colombian laws, as if the deceased were a national.
The assets or income from an inheritance or legacy that a taxpayer receives are treated specially for tax purposes. The assets received are considered occasional gains, and taxed as such.