Making a Will

Information about how to make a Will in Colombia and the different types of will available...

Wills are documents made by individuals in order to determine the division and succession of their estate upon their death.

The legal requirements for a person writing a will in Colombia include:

  • The will maker must be of legal age – over 18
  • The content of the will becomes valid after the death of the person. The will maker can modify part of, or the entire will, as many times as they wish
  • The testament is unilateral and cannot be transferred or delegated to a third party
  • The will maker must be of sound mind. People who have not reached legal age, are insane or could not, in writing or by spoken word, make their wishes known cannot make a will

Privileged Wills

A privileged will can either be oral, maritime or military.

  • Verbal Wills: Verbal wills can be made when the will maker’s life is in imminent danger and time does not allow for the drawing up of a solemn will. Three witnesses are required to make this type of will valid. A verbal will expires when thirty days from the date of the will, the person has not died, or when the person dies within this time, but the will is not put into writing within thirty days of the death
  • Military Wills: Military wills must be written down and can only be granted in times of war. This type of will can be taken down by a superior officer, or if the person is sick or injured, by a doctor. It must be in writing and signed by the will maker, the person who took down the will, and the witnesses. If the will maker could not sign due to a medical condition, this must be reflected in the will. The will expires if the will maker has not died within 90 days of the signature
  • Maritime Wills: These wills can be taken down at sea while on a Colombian boat, and must be signed by the captain or second in command, and three witnesses. The will is only valid when the will maker dies before leaving the boat, or within 90 days of leaving the boat

Making a Will

For a will to be recognized by law, it is necessary that it complies with the established inheritance laws; from then onwards the will must be taken into account and upheld when managing the distribution of the estate.

  • The will can only be modified by the will maker. Revoking a will can be achieved by writing a new one
  • The money owed by law to certain people, conjugal percentages and the legally required percentages which go to the descendants will be included in the document, even when they contradict what the will maker wishes

The legal conditions require that 50 percent of the estate be given to the total amount of legitimate heirs in equal shares. Another 25 percent can be freely distributed between one, all or some of the legitimate heirs at will, but cannot be distributed to third parties. The final 25 percent may be distributed by the will maker to whom they wish, be it an individual, company or not-for-profit organization.

There are two different procedures for conducting the hearing of a will:

  • Open Wills: An open will must be heard in front of a notary public and three witnesses. The content is not secret and is read out loud by the notary, and signed by the notary, the will maker and three witnesses
  • Closed Wills: A closed will must be heard in front of a notary public and five witnesses. For this will to be valid, the will maker must be able to read and write, given that when a will is closed it can only be read by the will maker and after their death it will be read during the succession. The cover page of a closed will must contain seven signatures; those of the will maker, the notary public and the five witnesses
Antonio Malaver - Malaver Abogados At: Carrera 15 N°. 93-75. Office 505, Bogotá Tel: +57 (1) 7428276 e-mail Copyright © 2014 Malaver Abogados All Rights Reserved